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Sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin with comedy mayhem in the best ‘what a carry-on’ tradition. Then settle back to enjoy some real life wanders down memory lane because . .

‘Oh We DID Like To Be Beside The Seaside!’ Written & Published By

Rising Brook Writers 3


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Story: Clive Hewitt Stephanie Spiers Anne Picken Edith Holland Barbara Stockham Audrey Rainbow Peter Shilston Geoffrey Lyon

Memories: Maurice Blisson Judy Davies Gillian Simmons Fred Waterfall

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At Pootlin’s we roll out of bed Wearing a great big smile. Why have we got a toothy grin? ‘Cause a brand new day’s a rumbling in And everything’s worth while. Wearing a great big smile. Happy Campers Wake-Up with the sun, For great big helpings of frolics and fun. Life is more worth while, Wearing a great big smile. Think of all the fun you’re having, All thanks to Harry Pootlin. Life is more worth while, Wearing a great big smile. Having fun with your honey, Turns even a gloomy day sunny. Life is more worth while, Wearing a great big smile. Do some singing in the shower After a happy half an hour. Everything’s more worth while Wearing a great big smile. Ho-Diddly-Ho! © Harry Pootlin 1960 5


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THE PROLOGUE

EH

It was a warm Saturday morning, just after Whit Week in 1965, at a run-down holiday camp in North Wales, in the first weeks of the summer season. Coaches were arriving loaded with weary parents, fractious children and grandparents all hopeful of a happy kiss-me-quick holiday. But while they have been travelling up from Wolverhampton, all is not well at the camp-site. Heads of Entertainment, the Blazer Boys and Girls and staff representatives had had an uneasy meeting with their Manager, Cecil Thoroughgood, and owner ‘arry Pootlin. An implied warning of a possible sale of the site was vaguely referred to, but then brushed aside in a pep-talk to make this particular week of the season a good one. They expected the usual bun fight with campers pushing and shoving to get the best room with a view, or nearest to the bar, according to taste. It was the time for the meet and greet: as one lot were registered each designated Blazer would show their batch of rowdy holiday makers to tea and sandwiches at the ‗Welcome Campers‘ shindig to make room for the next coach load to disembark. The fixed smile on the podgy face of Head Blazer Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne was a dead giveaway as to tension levels. Gossiping chalet 6


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maids had already lost sight of two small children in their care. A hue and cry of desperate mothers had failed to locate them, until over the tannoy came a plea from the donkey rides man: ‗Will somebody come and fetch these two kids from the stable block, they‘ve fell in the food bin and they‘re frightening the donkeys.‘ Phyllis‘s smile grew ever tighter as from behind the dining hut came some more weird commotion. Mr O‘Nions, one of the chefs was having a tantrum. A power surge from the generator had ruined the fish fingers and chips intended for the first meal session. He couldn‘t serve up raw chips with the fryers out of action. It would have to be beans and spaghetti on toast after all. Between coach loads of new faces the staff took a breather and a cuppa. The camp‘s harassed handyman, Sidney Spooner, who insisted on wearing a flat cap at all times and spoke with a lisp, found his way into their hideout bearing bad news. He couldn‘t fix the leak in the toilet block after all, and as it was Saturday he wouldn‘t be able to get any spares until Monday. Phyllis‘s smile was set in stone – no chip supper – lost kiddies and now a loo block out of action . . . Meanwhile, out of sight tucked away in his office, a very much on edge ‘arry Pootlin was waiting anxiously by the phone for the call which would decide his future plans. 7


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Saturday Lunchtime

BS

Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne lined up all the Blazer Girls as if she was a sergeant major. No one wanted to be there. They‘d had a week of talks about strikes due to this fact and no-one had been paid! But there they were waiting to receive the last punters for a weeks holiday. There were rumours of the holiday camp being sold. ‘arry Pootlin, the so called owner, wouldn‘t confirm, or deny those rumours so the staff were restless and ready to rebel! Someone shouted, ‗Here‘s the buses,‘ and all else was forgotten. The first person off the first bus was a distraught woman shouting, ‗I can‘t wake my daughter up. I gave her a travel sickness pill and I can‘t wake her up. Ohhh somebody dooo something.‘ ‗Slap her face,‘ someone shouted. Several Blazer girls scrambled onto the coach and pulled the slumped teenager from off her seat. Tugging between them they managed to carry her out into the fresh air. Willing hands brought a chair from the office. ‗Quick sit her on it.‘ ‗What‘s her name Missus?‘ ‗Janet. Janet.‘ ‗Janet dear,‘ cooed Phyllis gently as she gave the girl‘s face a limp wristed slap. 8


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‗Oh come here,‘ said a familiar voice. ‗Let me through.‘ Harry Pootlin had arrived. ‗Come on Janet love wake up!‘ No response. Then his tone changed, ‗WAKE UP,‘ he shouted. ‗YOU‘RE ON HOLIDAY.‘ He emphasised the last remark with a sharp slap. That did the trick. Janet woke up immediately and fell off the chair, crying her eyes out. Janet‘s mother was not amused. She approached Harry with eyes bulging and a red face about ready to explode. ‗How dare you! YOU UPSTART! . . . You good for nothing. Call yourself a man!‘ ‗HO-Diddly-HO! And a warm welcome to Coldwynd Sands – the home of happy campers!‘ whispered Blazer Girl Polly Entwhistle to her pal, Sharon Osborne, under the reproachful gaze of Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne.

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Saturday Afternoon

SMS

‗Are we there yet?‘ ‗Yes son. We‘re there!‘ said Archie Greatholder mopping his brow. ‗Coldwynd Sands! Best holiday camp on the North Wales coast!‘ shouted the driver taking off his cap and hopefully holding it upside down to catch any tips as the holiday makers filed off the coach. (It wasn‘t a bad haul; two bob and a half sucked pear drop.) ‗Cheapest holiday camp on the North Wales coast,‘ a voice said behind him as Archie and little Jonny scrambled down the steps onto the tarmac in front of the building, which looked suspiciously like a Nissen Hut, sporting the legend ‗Manager‘s Office‘ in peeling yellow letters stuck onto a fuchsia painted door. ‗It had better be,‘ said another. ‗Line up Ladies and Gentlemen. Line up. Form a queue. That‘s it. Oh dear is she being sick? Never mind. Probably a bit too warm on the coach eh?‘ bellowed their greeter wearing a Rhubarb and Custard striped jacket. Jonny‘s chin dropped: whatever the apparition was, she didn‘t look like any of the women from back home. She wasn‘t wearing a headscarf and pinny for a start. As the campers fell out of the moving sweat box in their excitement all eyes focused on the very large lady with the clipboard in the bright fuchsia and yellow blazer and very short 10


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pleated tennis skirt, which hardly adequately covered her very short fat legs, but, did nicely match the white socks and plimsolls. Next down the steps, Arthur Blenkinsop thought he‘d died and gone to heaven clapping eyes on the Blazer Boy and Girl‘s Head-Girl Phyllis Abercombie-Browne, but judging by the displeased look on Mrs Blenkinsop‘s face, the master plumber from Blackpool would probably wish he‘d have been more discreet in his appraisal of Phyllis, and Shirley‘s mum‘s obvious charms, once Mrs B got him safely inside their chalet. She‘d give him Ho-Diddly-Ho!! ‗Has that lady got a mouth full of gobstoppers dad?‘ asked little Jonny pointing a sticky finger at the Blazer Girl while peering over his shoulder at Shirley Peters who was being sick over the coach‘s back wheel as her mom held onto her pigtails, her face as red as the blouse she was almost wearing. And every hot blooded male on the coach had had their eye on Mrs Peters fitted blouse with all those frills. It was hard not to stare at Elsie Peters, what with the peep-toe red stilettos and wide belted mini skirt. Dad had never seen anything like Mrs Peters before, there weren‘t many dolly-birds in Bollon Hatchet, certainly none who‘d go on holiday on their own. Jonny hoped his dad hadn‘t caught something from Shirley seeing as how his dad had been loosening his collar and staring at her mum ever since they passed Manchester Piccadilly. 11


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‗Allerdyce, Gloria and Vera and Greatholder! A and J,‘ said the woman with the squeaky voice reading from the clipboard and waving a pencil like a magician‘s wand. ‗Here Miss,‘ said Archie shooting up his hand. A few campers grinned and snickered. ‗Dad! Dad! Stop it. You‘re not in school,‘ bleated Jonny blushing and hoping Shirley hadn‘t seen. It wasn‘t his fault. His dad didn‘t get out much. ‗Chalet 66. On the right follow the path.‘ The purple and yellow coated wonder woman held out a key with two down-turned fingers as if it had germs on it. ‗If you need extra towels call in at reception – very reasonable rates. No need to tell you Gloria. Home-from-home, isn‘t it?‘ The pensioner just grinned as she grabbed her key. ‗Hang on dad. Not so fast.‘ Jonny wanted to see what chalet Shirley was going to be in, but his dad was already striding off suitcase in hand, the smell of the sea in his nostrils and utterly determined not to miss a second of this adventure. This was the first time he‘d been away from the home he and Jonny shared with his widowed mum since he‘d finished his National Service. All he needed now was a kiss-me-quickhat, a bottle of brown ale and a dance with the girl in the red stilettos. Hey up, he were right glad he‘d come! 12


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Saturday Evening

AP

Harry Pootlin leaned back in his chair, swung away from the desk and stared through the window. First the generator, then the toilets, then that bloody woman... He‘d only been trying to help – everyone knows a sharp slap brings folk round. And now this. 'Damn!' he said. He'd been overheard, he was sure. A flitting figure, could have been a shadow, but Harry knew better. They were always at it. Would have tapped the damn phone if he'd given them half a chance. Should have gone out to the public box, but with the rain and everything... So. The cat was out of the bag. They‘d already be talking about this geezer coming down from the government planning place to survey the site. Probably moaning about his own massive compensation for his new house too. But it was all perfectly legal. When he bought Gwrych Towers he hadn‘t actually known the government were going to sequester that bit of road. It had only been a hint – still was. The geezer might find it unsuitable. And even if he did get his compensation it wouldn‘t be what you‘d call massive. Only just and fair. It was, after all, a beautiful house and he‘d be losing his livelihood too. What chance of any reemployment at his age? Those whingeing Blazers would easily get new jobs if they were prepared to make a bit of effort. Learn a new trade. Loads 13


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of countries were crying out for craftsmen. And, no doubt, for craftswomen too. That‘s the trouble with young folk today, he thought. Want everything on a plate. 'Damn!' he said again. What to do? The staff would kick up, of that he was sure. They‘d strike. Whinge that their pay was overdue and that they‘d been left in the dark or some such nonsense. Why shouldn‘t they be left in the dark? Who owned the place? But he couldn't have a strike on his hands. No meals, no dusting, no jolly games or competitions or dances or bingo or professional coaching in the cricket nets when the geezer came down to inspect. The punters would say the place was a tip and the compensation would drop something rotten. Because it wouldn‘t be a thriving money pot he‘d be giving up, would it? It would be a disaster. In fact they‘d probably charge for taking it off his hands. And besides, a strike would mean hassle, which Harry hated, plus demands for money back which he hated even more. Then there was the local rag - it would leap like a lion leaps at fresh meat. A hungry lion, hitherto barely surviving on a diet of whist drives and unlit bikes. The Nationals might even take it up! Didn't they always squawk when anything nuclear was mentioned? 'Give you cancer, poison all the sheep, blow the world to smithereens etc., etc..' And they‘d come and poke about, moan about the generator, whinge because a few 14


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loos were blocked, and if they happened to come across some chipped paint, or a bit of damp on a wall, or a slight crack in a washbasin, then that would get star billing too. They‘d ruin his reputation, ruin him. But even if he could block the news of nuclear possibilities and God alone knew how he could, the government might still choose the site in Swansea. If Harry wasn‘t going to risk ending his days in this God-forsaken dump he‘d got to seal the deal. And he‘d got to keep the planning geezer and the staff as far away from each other as possible.

ere . . h e r e w u o Wish y 15


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Later That Saturday Night

SMS

‗I tell you straight up.‘ ‗Never. Never in a million years. That old skin flint will never give this place up. Keeps him in cigars and bubbly,‘ said Reg straightening the hanky in the top pocket of his blazer. ‗Used to more like. I tell you Reg he‘s going to sell. And me with a white-wedding in the offing,‘ sniffed Sharon, the dimple in her chin all of a wobble. ‗Just my luck, I‘ve even bought my shoes and a zircon tiara — cost me two pounds ten shillings. Fat chance of me traipsing down the aisle if I lose this job. Fat chance! No more Blazer Girl - no more bride.‘ Head Blazer Boy Reg Robinson‘s mouth sagged. The girl was right. If Pootlin sold up it would be a disaster. The radio news called North Wales an employment black spot, plenty of seasonal work at hand to mouth wages but proper jobs were few and far between. ‗Well, how can you so be so sure? Go on tell me that.‘ ‗Polly heard him on the phone.‘ ‗Polly!! Dear me. Polly Braithwaite can‘t tell her right hand from her left. Keep your chin up until we get something a bit more definite to go on than Polly‘s say so. Now, haven‘t you got somewhere to be?‘ he urged tapping his wrist watch. ‗Oh Lord, is that the time?‘ said Sharon 16


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pinching roses back into her cheeks. ‗Party, Party, Party time.‘ Reg wasn‘t listening, he was already walking onto the stage of the main ballroom which was filling up with this week‘s offering of new faces all fresh from their first experience of nosh dished up by the camp‘s duo of chefs, who‘d retired from the army catering corps longer ago than anyone dare ask. Hand over his eyes like a sun-shade Reg surveyed the new intake for old faces just in case he still owed anyone any money. It always paid to be thorough in the initial flock vetting – he had to keep himself nice and well away from any predatory widows on the prowl. Just as well as it happens as a hand was already waving from the front row of tables which abutted the dance floor. ‗Hello Gloria. Back again, are we?‘ Reg spluttered into the hand mike. ‗Haven‘t you got a home to go to? How many times is it this season? Two? Three? Gawd you must be a sucker for punishment!‘ Amidst polite laughter tubby Gloria Allerdyce glowed in the afterglow of the attention from the stage. Her chubby cheeks pinked up under those tight blue-permed curls and a flat round nose shone in the twinkle from the glitter ball which to Reg‘s mind‘s eye made her head resemble a well-fed sow wearing a tightly fitting bonnet. Gloria! That was all he needed. He‘d have to keep his chalet door locked and bolted. ‗He‘s in trouble now!‘ laughed Mary. ‗She‘s 17


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had her eye on our Reg for years.‘ ‗Never mind Reg Robinson‘s love life. This is serious,‘ whispered Sharon as she donned the cigarette and ice-cream tray and wriggled it into a comfy position. ‗What is?‘ asked Mary struggling with the outlet pipe of the glass washing machine which as per usual had left the first batch of beer glasses dirtier when they came out than when they went in. ‗That ‗Flash Harry‘! He‘s been and gone and done it now!‘ ‗What with ‗Lady‘ Phyllis?‘ ‗No! Not that!! Don‘t you ever think of anything else?‘ Kneeling under the bar counter with one hand inserted up the outlet pipe Mary blinked a heavy weight pair of false lashes and pondered the question: no perhaps not. ‗Well, do I have to guess? What has he done?‘ she replied. ‗He‘s selling up! We‘ll all be out in the street. And…‘ Sharon couldn‘t go on, tears were filling up and she daren‘t let loose tears or her mascara would flow and she‘s look like a panda. She couldn‘t let Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne see a Blazer Girl looking like a panda – she was on a verbal warning as it was. One more slip up and she‘d be on latrine duty at the lido. Her slender shoulders shuddered in horror at the disturbing thought. 18


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Sunday 5.00am

BS

A knock on their chalet door woke Blazer Girls Evie and Sharon up. ‗Who‘s that at this hour?‘ they both whispered. ‗It‘s me.‘ ‗Who‘s me?‘ Sharon jumped out of her bunk followed by Evie wielding a cricket bat. ‗Let me in,‘ the voice insisted. ‗It‘s Reg.‘ They both opened the door Evie had the cricket bat over her head ready to clonk whoever it was. ‗What‘s going on?‘ asked Evie as she lowered the bat. ‗A crisis meeting in the dining hall. All staff now! But, we must keep the noise down.‘ ‗Okay. Okay.‘ Sharon and Evie shoved Reg out of the door so they could get dressed. They crept stealthily over the donkey ride arena, Evie fell. ‗Oh blast,‘ she said clutching her knee. ‗Shhhh, shhhh.‘ They saw the rest of the staff all converging on the dining hall, it was like assault course as the mist came down. They heard an, ‗OWW that hurt.‘ Mutterings followed, it was a nightmare. At last the dining hall loomed in front of them. There were strange lights bobbing around the hall as Sharon and Evie opened the door. Squeak, squeak. ‗This door needs oiling, we‘ve got spooks in here,‘ Reg said, as he joined the girls shining his torch under his chin. ‗Oh stop 19


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it Reg.‘ The girls fell over in a heap. ‗Ohh damn, damn, what is this thing?‘ Reg obligingly shone his torch in their direction, ‗Hah, hah you silly sods. You‘ve fell over that dummy of ‘arry Pootlin.‘ ‗Yuk! Yuk! Get us out of here,‘ the girls moaned with arms and legs flying everywhere. Eventually, Reg extricated them both from the cardboard figure. ‗Oh damn Reg. Look here, his head‘s come off!‘ Evie wailed. ‗I know! Stick it up his . . .‘ ‗No don‘t say it!‘ Evie said as she placed Harry‘s head under his arm. Everyone doubled up laughing. It took Reg ten minutes to calm them all down. ‗This is serious Reg,‘ whispered somebody in a hushed tone. ‗Please boys and girls, let‘s have some hush.‘ ‗I‘m hungry,‘ roared Fred. Then they all decided to take charge of the cooking. ‗Chips anyone? Or bacon and eggs?‘ It was a farce. Bags of chips, and packets of bacon passed from one to the other. Then someone said, ‗I know. Let‘s have pancakes.‘ ‗Oh YES,‘ agreed everyone. No way could Reg control the hordes, ‗Oh my God,‘ he wailed, sitting down heavily his head in his hands. ‗Stop this racket you are like animals,‘ Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne had arrived. ‗Now 20


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what is all this about?‘ she cooed. ‗Well,‘ said Fred rising quickly from his chair. ‗It‘s quite simple really.‘ ‗I am going to suggest a strike. So there!‘ said Reg stamping his foot. Foot stamping and muffled voices followed as the gang ate their pancakes. ‗Really!‘ roared Phyllis AbercrombieBrowne. Stamping her own foot in retaliation. ‗Why haven‘t I been informed about this meeting?‘ ‗Ohh, sorry. Sorry,‘ rose from the hordes as they licked the syrup and sugar from their sticky fingers. ‗Right,‘ said Reg, ‗boys to the left, girls to the right. Let‘s have no fondling of knee caps or pussy footing under the tables. Thank you.‘ Phyllis rose to a hushed silence; they all waited with bated breath. ‗We all agree this is a serious matter,‘ said Phyllis. ‗No-one has been paid for two weeks, and there are rumours of a sell-out of the camp. Believe me I am not privy to Pootlin‘s plans.‘ Polly stood up. ‗Well, I must confess. I overheard, by chance of course, Mr Pootlin on the phone, he was speaking to whoever about money and how much could he expect to gain by selling. That‘s it!‘ Everyone agreed. ‗STRIKE –STRIKE!‘ they chanted. ‗Keep it down. I‘ve hidden poles and card21


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board in the supply room behind the counters,‘ Reg announced. Quick as a flash they all rushed as one body to get the cardboard and poles. Reg as ever, the ringleader, promised to supply felt-tip bingo pens to write slogans on the cardboard. Phyllis was gob-smacked and sat arms folded in disgust at the rabble.

Sunday Morning

SMS

Reg Robinson stumbled out into the dawn of a new day rubbing at the stubbly growth prickling his chin as his world tumbled down around his rather prominent ears. His reluctant emergence into the morning light was followed by a raucous clamour as the rest of the support staff, and, more importantly, most of the Blazer Boys and Girls, whose dander was definitely up, followed him all shouting at once. 22


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Reg didn‘t notice the din they were making. He was in despair. Sue hadn‘t been at the strike meeting. Of course, she hadn‘t. Why would she be? With her family connections why would she look his way at all? What had he got to offer that she‘d be interested in? Nothing! Sue was a pipe dream. What a fantastic dolly-bird like Susan was doing in a dump like this was beyond him. And striking! Well, Sue needn‘t worry her pretty head about getting another job need she? Not with a face as gorgeous as hers. She was another Mary Hopkin! Marvellous on the karaoke. Reg stopped dead in his tracks as this monumental truth hit home causing Fred to walk straight into the back of his ankles. Sucking sugary fingers Fred said: ‗Pancakes! Ruddy good meeting Reg. Pancakes!‘ Reg managed a smile. ‗What‘s up me old China? You look like you‘ve found a tanner and got to share it,‘ grinned Fred, his top lip glistening with crystallised sugar. Reg simply shook his head and quickened his pace. ‗Oh, I get it. Miss Fancy Pants didn‘t show up, did her? I don‘t know what you see in her Reg? She always looks at me as if she‘s got a bad smell under her hooter.‘ ‗She might be right there Fred.‘ 23


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‗Oi ... I thought you were a pal. Besides I have a bath once a week regular whether I need one or not. I weren‘t dragged up you know.‘ Reg opened the door to the stores and held it back as the following hordes descended the steps to the Nissen hut. ‗Over there,‘ he pointed in a vague direction, ‗there‘s no need to push. There‘s plenty for everybody.‘ A soft voice spoke behind him. ‗Can I have a placard Reggie, or is it boys only?‘ Reg turned to gaze down upon a pair of eyes the colour of cornflowers in high summer. ‗You came,‘ he whispered, lowering his voice as all men do when talking about important things like football teams and Derby winners. Colour drained from his cheeks and his collar inexplicably became two sizes too small. Susan took a Bingo pen from his outstretched hand as he stood as tongue tied as a teenager. ‗What shall I write on the poster?‘ she asked. ‗Anything you like. Anything at all, Sue.‘ whispered Reg suddenly all shy and flummoxed. Hammer in hand Fred shook his head. ‗Aye Aye ... Another good bloke gone for a burton,‘ he said, sucking on the nail sticking out from beneath his teeth. Now who‘d go out on the pull with him? And then another thought struck home . . . on the bright side the field had just been cleared. All summer long he‘d have first pick of 24


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all the talent that poured in off the buses. With that in mind Fred was beaming right up to the moment when the hammer hit his thumb.

In the confusion not one of the Blazers noticed that over in the shadows by Ladies Toilet Block A someone was watching all the striker‘s commotion and appeared to be taking notes furiously. Sunday

CMH

After the drama of breakfasting five hundred and forty two hungry campers, and the dozen or so Blazers who came begging, the committee sat down to a well earned cup of tea, when Mr Jones, the designated cook for lunch, came in with a worried look on his face. ‗We‘ve got a problem,‘ he announced, ‗there‘s not enough in the stores for lunch.‘ 25


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He waved a small piece of paper about, ‗This is all there is in the whole camp. A few spuds and a bit of cabbage, maybe enough for a hundred, a little bit of meat, maybe enough for twenty, some rice that can be used for puddings and half a dozen catering sized tins of fruit salad. There‘s no flour or sugar that we can find, neither is there any fat.‘ He slumped into a chair, ‗We‘re in the mire when it comes to food. I phoned the supplier that Pootlin uses and was told they wouldn‘t send anything until Pootlin pays last month‘s bills. When I explained, they didn‘t want to know. Ohh, they said ―Good Luck Mate‖, but insisted on cash before delivery.‘ His face was a picture of abject misery. Bert, who had taken on the job of bookkeeper, looked at the other committee members and sighed. ‗I think I know how to go about it,‘ he said. ‗Give me a list of those supplies you want and I‘ll go round and see them in the next few minutes. You start on the preparation of what we have and stand by to offload the lorries when they arrive.‘ He must have been successful as, ninety minutes later, enough food for two days arrived, and willing hands carried it away to the stores and kitchens. Later that day Bert and Beryl Oldcastle caught sight of Susan, their daughter and one of the Blazers, with her arms around another of the Blazers, a good looking young man who had been publicised as the camp comedian/compère. She 26


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was laughing up into his face and was, very obviously, attracted to him. Whilst he was far from adverse to her company his body language was making it clear that he wasn‘t quite ready for a long-term commitment, but could be brought around to the idea. ‗Yoo Hoo! Susan! Yoo hoo,‘ Beryl called out to the pair. The man sprang away from their embrace although Susan kept hold of his arm. ‗Mum and Dad! How nice to see you. What are you doing here? Ohh, this is Reggie by the way,‘ she said, ‗isn‘t he a sweetie?‘ She hugged the furiously blushing Reg to her and said, fondly and proprietarily. ‗He‘s ever so funny when he‘s working, and he‘s got a degree as well.‘ Hands were shaken all round and the still furiously blushing Reg went off to do a stint at picketing. ‗Susan! Just what is going on around here,‘ Beryl demanded. ‗Your Dad has got himself on some sort of committee that‘s taken over running the camp. You know getting food and things and I‘m getting worried about you.‘ Susan laughed, took her mother‘s arm and said, ‗Come on Mum and I‘ll explain over a nice cup of coffee in my chalet. Go and organise the dinner Dad, and don‘t forget to save Reggie and me some.‘ Bert looked at the two women in his life, one a younger version of the other, and thought, Reg hasn‘t got a chance. He‘s married to Sue; he just doesn‘t know it yet, and went off for a pint and a game of snooker. 27


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Sunday Afternoon

EH

After dinner most campers went back to their chalets to recover from what had been a very unsatisfactory meal by their standards. ‗I expects Sunday dinner to be a bit more special didn‘t you Jeff?‘ grumbled Mavis. He didn‘t argue, Mavis was always hard to please. ‗Go and see what‘s on for the kids this afternoon. I‘ve got to do my hair I want to look good for the cabaret tonight. Perhaps they‘ll be looking for the Holiday Princess.‘ Mavis went into the bathroom to find her hair rollers leaving Jeff to sort the children out. Jeff read the notice board outside: ‗Dressing up and story-time for you Rosie and beach games for Bobby. Let‘s go tell your mum.‘ Mavis looked up from her titivating as they returned. ‗Well what about for us? I can‘t see you in the knobbly knees contest and I‘m not a granny yet.‘ Mavis could make anything sound dreary when she was in this mood. This was not Jeff‘s idea of a HAPPY HOLIDAY. ‗There‘s something going on behind the scenes, I can feel it,‘ she complained. ‗None of the Blazers look happy. There‘s trouble coming. You know how sensitive I am to trouble.‘ ‗Give over Mavis - it‘s only your nerves playing up again. We‘re here to enjoy ourselves and that‘s what I intend to do.‘ With that Jeff bounced out banging the door with the two kids 28


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in tow. Rosie skipped along, ‗I love dressing up daddy. Where‘s it to be?‘ Jeff stopped a group of Blazers who weren‘t very helpful to ask directions . ‗Over there,‘ was all the help he got before they returned to their huddle. The tannoy crackled - BING BONG - BING BONG - it was Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne: ‗Good afternoon campers,‘ a pause for the hoped for reply. A few hesitant ‗good-afternoons‘ were heard. They needed a few days practice. ‗Jolly things for the children to do,‘ came ringing over the loud speaker. ‗Uncle Cecil will be on the beach from three to five, get your buckets and spades from the beach shed - smashing prizes for the sandcastle competition. Me, Aunty Phyllis, will be organising story time and the infants‘ fancy dress in the main Hall. Bring your favourite toy there‘s a competition for them as well.‘ Without taking a breath she continued, ‗Budding cricketers, yes even you granddad, will find a well know batsman waiting in the nets. Perhaps we can get a game going later in the week. Have a good afternoon. Over and out.‘ Jeff groaned. He was no sportsman. He made his way to the side of the pool where a few other men were lounging in deck chairs. ‗You don‘t look like a happy camper mate. What‘s up?‘ this remark from a man in shorts and sandals made him feel right at home. So he sat 29


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down. ‗The wife‘s put out. Says there‘s something funny going on.‘ ‗You as well! Mine‘s got the hump over a rumour she‘s heard. Old Pootlin wants to sell up. Who‘d want this place?‘ ‗Well I‘m for a quiet half-hour, I‘ve just taken the kids for their games. Good job they‘ve got them organised,‘ said Jeff with a sigh. Eric got his fags out and offered them round. ‗You been here before then?‘ Jeff asked. ‗Yes! It‘s the best idea with the kids. Always good prizes, and me and the wife have the free dancing at night and the Bingo. But we haven‘t heard much about that yet have you? I‘m Eric by the way.‘ Jeff leaned forward in the deckchair, ‗Anything in this rumour d‘yer reckon? The wife says there is; what with the staff missing half the time.‘ Another man joined them grinning, ‗See you've been let off the chain, what have you promised her this time?‘ and he took the offered fag. ‗Not so much of your cheek young Raymond, just because you‘re me brother in law. You wait till you‘ve been married for ten years. ‗Okay, okay,‘ he said. ‗Anything exciting going on here then, anybody drowned?‘ With that young Raymond went off to get a chair. ‗He‘s got a lot to learn. Married my wife‘s 30


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sister last Easter, bright lad but cheeky if you know what I mean. There were plenty of campers in the open air pool as it was a warm day, mostly teenagers, shrieking and splashing about. One lad, all arms and legs, was showing off what he thought would catch the girls‘ eye. ‗There‘s always one like him,‘ said Eric sounding a bit envious. ‗Look at him running on the edge: the great fool.‘ Too late for a warning to reach over the pool, an almighty splash, a screaming rush of girls and a bright pink and yellow cap came bobbing up to the surface followed by the rest of a large matronly figure. ‗You damned idiot jumping on me like that. Where‘s the life guard? I could have been drowned,‘ the woman was floundering around trying to regain her balance. From nowhere a Blazer Boy came running, ‗What‘s going on here?‘ he shouted as he jumped in fully dressed and grabbed her under the chin. ‗You‘re all right now love. I‘ve got you. Soon have you out.‘ Like a beached whale she spluttered mouthfuls of water over him as he helped her up the steps. ‗He wants banning from the pool,‘ she said as she sank on to a bench and started to shiver. ‗Fetch this lady a cuppa Polly,‘ said Reg Robinson as the Blazer Girl appeared, ‗and hurry we don‘t want CT on our backs again.‘ 31


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Raymond reappeared carrying a bottle of pop with a straw. ‗What about that then?‘ he said. ‗I guessed he‘d do something daft. I was watching him earlier on, trying to dive off the high board. Showing off to some girls.‘ With that bit of excitement over, the deck chair loungers settled back as the balmy afternoon passed onwards towards tea-time. It was Jeff who broke up the party, he had still to reclaim his children before going back to softsoap his missus. Always handy to be on her good side when it was nearly time for the bar to open.

Sunday: The Cricket Coach Maurice sat on the bed, sipping a cup of tea reinforced by swigs from a whisky bottle. He hadn‘t shaved or dressed: why should he? 32

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It was Sunday; his day off. The bleak little room held only two items personal to him: a photograph of the wife and son whom he hadn‘t seen for years, and another of his old county cricket team. There he was, standing on the left, resplendent in his whites, with his brylcreemed hair glistening in the sunshine. It was the year before an injured knee had put an end to his professional career. There was a knock on the door and Cecil Thoroughgood popped his head round, looking more harassed than ever. ‗Maurice,‘ he said, ‗can you come out and coach the boys, please?‘ ‗It‘s my day off.‘ ‗Yes, I know, but can you come out, please? We‘ve got some trouble, and there‘s a bunch of boys hanging around with nothing to do.‘ It‘s the strike, thought Maurice, that‘s what it is. He was minded to refuse, but Cecil stood over him, and grudgingly Maurice allowed himself to be chivvied into getting dressed, gathering together his bag of kit and walking down to the sports centre. I always was too soft, he thought resentfully. Several boys were hanging around the cricket nets. Maurice disliked them on first sight, and as soon as they got started with some basic warming-up, it was clear there was scarcely a natural athlete amongst them. Impotent frustration built up inside him as he took them through 33


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fielding drills and bowling drills, deliberately making these as boring as possible, and his manner surly and aggressive, until one by one the boys sloped off and he was left with just three: a lad called Alex, who was big and strong for his age, and two youngsters. He told these two to pad up and bat in the nets, so that he would bowl at one of them and Alex, who seemed to know what he was doing, bowl at the other. The boy in Maurice‘s net proved to have no talent at all, even against the gentlest of bowling, and Maurice very soon lost any desire to persist with him. What was happening in the other net was more interesting. Alex was bowling very well, and was proving far too much for his young batsman, who was looking thoroughly intimidated. ‗Alex!‘ said Maurice. ‗He can‘t play you! Give him a chance. Slow down!‘ ‗Why?‘ replied Alex. ‗This is the way I bowl: I‘m fast. If he can‘t play me, that‘s his lookout!‘ Maurice considered. ‗Can you bat too?‘ ‗Yes‘ ‗Then get your pads on and come into my net. I‘ll bowl at you.‘ The two younger boys were abandoned. Maurice was able to bowl with reasonable pace at Alex, who fended him off with great confidence, and eventually asked him, ‗Did you play for England?‘ 34


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‗No.‘ ‗I‘m going to play for England.‘ The kid might even do that, thought Maurice. It‘s a pity he‘s such a pillock. Out loud he said, as much to himself as to Alex, ‗I might have played for England, but I wrecked my knee. My best match was against the 1953 Australian touring team. I got Arthur Morris and Lyndsey Hassett; got ‘em both caught behind. They told me afterwards it was the most hostile bowling they‘d faced all season.‘ Alex‘s face indicated acute boredom. He probably hadn‘t even heard of the two great Australians. ‗I bet you can‘t get me out!‘ he said. ‗Is that a challenge, kid?‘ ‗Yes!‘ ‗Okay then! Coming down, watch out!‘ The first ball was quick, but Alex hit it with considerable force into the net at about waistheight. ‗Caught in the covers!‘ said Maurice. ‗There wasn‘t a fielder there. That‘s why I played that stroke.‘ Right kid, thought Maurice, beginning to feel very annoyed. He measured out a longer run. A jarring pain blazed through his bad knee as he sent the ball down at pace, striking Alex full on the front foot. ‗HowZAAAT!‘ yelled Maurice to the non-existent umpire. ‗Not out!‘ replied Alex, through gritted teeth. He was clearly in distress, but resumed his 35


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stance at the crease. Maurice wanted to say, kid, you‘re really good. You‘re the best young cricketer I‘ve seen for years. You‘ve got talent and you‘ve got guts. Let me help, and you could go all the way. But he loathed the lad: loathed his arrogance and lack of respect; loathed too the probability that he might well achieve far more in his career than he, Maurice, ever had. So he walked back to his mark, and despite the agony in his knee, sent down the fastest ball he had managed since his injury. And it was a beauty; rearing up off the pitch and striking Alex a heavy blow just under the ribs. That was enough for the boy, who burst into tears, flung down his bat and ran off sobbing. Then Cecil appeared. He was clearly having a very bad day, and was furiously angry. ‗I‘ve been watching you!‘ he shouted. ‗That was a disgraceful exhibition; quite disgraceful! Deliberately hurting the poor boy! That‘s not what our campers pay for! You‘re sacked, d‘you hear me? Sacked!‘ ‗Get stuffed!‘ retorted Maurice. He turned his back and stalked off with as much dignity as his aching knee would permit. Who cares? he thought. It was a rubbish job anyway. What was I doing, working in such a dump? Me, Maurice Harrison, a man who could have bowled for England! Then he thought, at least I‘ve proved I can still do it. When I need to, I can still send ‘em down! 36


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While over by the sports pavilion the man with the note pad was hovering ominously while puffing on a tailor-made cigarette. Sunday Afternoon Pootlin‟s Office

SMS

‗Strike. I‘ll give ‘em ruddy strike! Trouble makers! Don‘t know when they‘re onto a good thing. When I get to the bottom of this . . .when I find the ring leader . . . I‘ll show them just who‘s in charge round here . . .‘ ‗Perhaps a few calm words of reassurance might . . .‘ ‗Calm words. Don‘t be more of a silly ass than you can help, Thoroughgood. If you‘ve nowt useful to say then shut up,‘ retorted Pootlin, who punctuated the angry put down by chomping on the sticky end of a half smoked cheroot. 37


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‗I was only . .‘ muttered Cecil Thoroughgood, who was colouring under his collar to the same shade of puce as his uniform shirt. ‗Only trying to help.‘ Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne eased a cheek of an imposing bottom onto the corner of Pootlin‘s desk and showing a lot of tanned thigh beamed one of her largest ‗grade A‘ beamers in her boss‘s direction. ‗I think Cecil has a point Mr P. We need to get the Blazers back to work. Perhaps a bonus?‘ ‗Bonus!!!‘ Pootlin‘s cigar fell in a shower of ash on to his blotter. ‗The only bonus that lot‘s getting is a ride to the dole office. Bonus my armpit. They ought to be glad I haven‘t sacked the lot of them.‘ Prompted by the brave attempt to pour oil on troubled waters Cecil tried again. ‗Could you tell the ring leaders when they‘re likely to be paid perhaps? Perhaps that might ease them back to work.‘ ‗Ease back to work. Lazy beggars eat me out of house and home, living rent free in top of the line housing and want more wages as well. Ruddy cheek and just whose side are you pair on? You both want to remember what side your own bread‘s buttered.‘ The beamer froze and hardened round hereyes – ‗top of the line housing‘ – her chalet could hardly be called that even if she did have a hot water geezer and what with one side backing on 38


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to the kitchen block her chalet was shielded from the Irish Sea‘s summer gales. She was used to being piggy in the middle between a rock and a hard place but Harry Pootlin wasn‘t usually this flinty or bull tempered. He must be in serious financial trouble to be this hard nosed with the staff, some of whom he‘d known for donkeys‘ years. It crossed her mind that, being on the monthly paid management side, her own salary might not be forthcoming either if this strike continued. It was definitely desirable to get Pootlin to budge off his high horse and into talks with . . . with who? . . . Reg Robinson? Red Robbo!! Suddenly an ear splitting clatter, followed by a loud splash, from the direction of the open air lido cut into her thoughts. The pleats in the tennis skirt fell sharply back into place as Phyllis scurried to the window. ‗Now what?‘ bellowed Pootlin pushing himself up from his throne like chair, his cheek bones wearing circles scarlet enough to keep a clown happy. ‗Oh dear,‘ said Cecil peering over Phyllis‘s shoulder. ‗I never thought installing that swing boat ride was a good idea so close to the lido.‘ Open mouthed Phyllis was speechless as on tip toe she stared at the hoard of scrambling campers struggling out of the shallow end dripping and swearing. Apparently none were the 39


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worse for their early bath, as fortunately the ‗boat‘ part of the swing boat ride was floating majestically looking for all the world as if a pirate galleon had just docked in the lido. ‗Another health and safety disaster. . . I told him two chains just wouldn‘t hold all that weight,‘ mouthed Cecil to Phyllis. ‗I know,‘ she mouthed back. ‗Don‘t just stand there,‘ yelled Pootlin sinking back behind his desk, his cheeks taking on an all over unhealthy shade of scarlet. ‗If . . . . if that ride‘s been deliberately sabotaged they‘re all out. All the ruddy lot of them. I‘ll show that lazy shower of layabouts just who‘s in charge round here.‘

Sunday Evening

CMH

It was nothing new that there was trouble in the bar; that the trouble came from one of the Blazers was. The lunch meal had gone off well, better than the original menu in fact, but for the beleaguered Blazers a post meal pint or two had turned into a sulky afternoon drinking session, and the campers took exception to it. ‗It‘s all very well for them to say that their drinks are put on the slate and cleared up on pay day, but I‘ve seen the slate for all of them and it‘s more than they get paid a week. 40


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What‘s more the slate hasn‘t been cleared for over a month which means that they haven‘t been paid for that long!‘ Grumbles from the volunteer bar staff confirmed the facts. The members of the managing committee looked at each other, sadly shook their heads, and decreed, ‗No more slate for the Blazers.‘ The die had been cast. During the evening those Blazers not on picket duty congregated in a solid, bad tempered block at one end of the bar. The word had spread that they now had to pay for their drinks; and they didn‘t like it one bit. Some of the campers took pity on them and offered to pay for a round of drinks but this was refused, usually with bad grace. Eventually they drifted away and let the campers get on with the entertainments without their glowering disapproval. Mrs Evans shot into the bar shouting, ‗Look! Somebody‘s emptied the swimming pool. There‘s no water in it at all and the deck chairs have gone as well!‘ From the back of the room came a shout, ‗It‘s them damn and blasted Blazers I‘ll bet. They were in here earlier plotting something.‘ A quick look confirmed that the pool, liberally sprinkled with the base of the swing boat ride and soggy deck chairs, was indeed emptying slowly and that the hand wheels had somehow ‗mysteriously‘ gone missing from where they should have been bolted on to the valves. 41


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According to one of the campers, who worked at a municipal pool, there was also a cover missing from the water purifying kit. A pile of bagged and very wet salt, oozing sluggishly down a drain, in the corner of the equipment room testified that the damage had been deliberate. The campers‘ expert on the subject looked at the pipe work and gave his opinion, ‗There‘s nothing missing that can‘t be rectified in half an hour with a spanner, when we‘ve got our hands on the bits of course. The only important thing is the salt for the purifier. We could use ordinary table salt at a pinch, but it would take all the salt in the camp and thirty or forty pounds more, to get it up and running. If anybody knows where I can get a large adjustable spanner I might be able to refill the pool tomorrow, otherwise we‘re stuck!‘ Disconsolately the room was relocked and the committee met to discuss the problem. ‗Sabotage, this is pure industrial sabotage,‘ spluttered Mr Lucas, the ‗L‘ block‘s representative, ‗somebody could have been hurt if they‘d just jumped in the pool without looking. No signs up, nothing to say ‗Keep Out‘, nothing. Those Blazers have gone too far, we should call the police in.‘ Whilst there was some support for the idea it was realised that they couldn‘t actually prove it was the on-strike Blazers, let alone which ones, who had drained the pool. 42


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Under The Pool . . .

Sunday Evening

SMS

Archie Greatholder was beaming, he had died and gone to heaven. Who would have thought a chap like him could be so lucky? He was carrying the tray of drinks across the empty dance-floor as if walking on bubbles, he didn‘t even mind the wait at the bar, or that a group of Blazers was over by the juke box glaring at the strike breaking ‗campers‘ committee‘. Archie didn‘t give a damn about any strikers, nothing was going to ruin his holiday. Seeing his dad approaching, Jonny had his fingers crossed. Keep going Dad don‘t trip over, your laces are undone again, thought Jonny hardly able to keep watching until his dad had set down the tray in front of Shirley and her mom. 43


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‗All right there son?‘ Archie asked passing over a bottle of Vimto with a straw. ‗Okay Dad,‘ lied Jonny. He wasn‘t going to spoil the evening by telling his dad he‘d gone deaf in one ear. Considering what had happened that afternoon he thought he‘d got off lightly. ‗What about you Shirley, got over it now?‘ ‗Yes thanks Mr Greatholder, only a few bruises. Nothing to blart over.‘ Shirley‘s mum ruffled her daughter‘s hair. Tough as old boots and only eight. She‘d do! ‗I told you to call me Uncle Archie.‘ Archie squeezed her mum‘s hand under the table as he spoke and had a twinkle in his eye that Jonny couldn‘t recall seeing before. Shirley‘s mum had dressed for the occasion in an ‗op-art‘ mini dress, the latest thing according to the woman in the market. ‗Monochrohombic or sommat dearie, ‗black an‘ white‘, Mary Quant . . . all the rage on the King‘s Road,‘ although the label actually said Marti Kant. In truth Archie was having difficulty knowing where to look as Elsie‘s skirt was very short and the frock‘s dizzy pattern was making his eyes water. ‗You look lovely Elsie, that black eye‘s hardly noticeable.‘ ‗I‘d sue if I could afford a good lawyer,‘ grumbled Elsie patting her cheek bone. ‗We could have both been killed dead.‘ Jonny‘s eyebrows raised in surprise, consid44


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ering he‘d been the one they landed on. A bit more concern being thrown in his direction would have been appreciated. When that swing boat sailed over the hedge and splashed down in the shallow end he‘d thought his number was up. If it hadn‘t been for his dad jumping in to drag him clear he‘d have been pinned under the keel and drowned for sure. ‗It was funny though,‘ chuckled Shirley through a mouth full of pop. ‗What? When all that water splashed over the deckchairs and everybody got wet?‘ grinned Archie. ‗I didn‘t think it was funny,‘ said Elsie tugging at her hemline. ‗Flying through the air like that. I never go on swings normally. Going up high makes my nose bleed.‘ She stopped bleating to gaze into Archie‘s big brown eyes. ‗You were ever so brave Archie giving me a fireman‘s lift. You are strong. Fancy you jumping in to save little old me . . . My Hero,‘ Archie blushed as Elsie patted his hand. Shirley and Jonny looked at each other their faces a picture of embarrassment. Shirley was particularly mortified; the image of her mother‘s frilly knickers on public view as Archie climbed up the steps out of the water with a dripping wet Elsie slung across his shoulder was something that would be forever imprinted on her memory. As the last dregs of fizzy Vimto bubbles 45


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were being slurped up flat paper straws young Shirley did just wonder for a moment or two how long it would be before ‗Uncle Archie‘ had to be called just plain ‗Dad‘. Monday Morning

AP

Dennis Morgan wiped his knife and opened the letter. ‗How long are you going to be?‘ shrilled the voice. ‗I‘m trying to get finished here.‘ His wife swooped down on his plate and in a swift arc deposited Dennis‘s breakfast in the kitchen bin. ‗You must think I‘ve got nothing else to do all day. You‘ve been staring at that toast for half an hour.‘ But Dennis didn‘t hear – he had switched his stare. …Coldwynd Sands, North Wales, with reference to suitability for a nuclear installation. The site is at present occupied by a holiday complex... ‗You think just because you get paid for it you‘re the only one who has to do any planning. I have to plan my day you know. I suppose you think I just sit around listening to the wireless.‘ …initial inspection should commence on rd 23 July and be completed within a week… ‗Planning my day‘s much harder than anything you ever have to face. I don‘t know how I‘m supposed to plan anything if you take an hour to finish your breakfast.‘ 46


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He looked over at the calendar with its meticulously crossed off squares. No! It was the 23rd today! ‗Are you going to work or what?‘ ‗Yes,‘ he said mildly. ‗I‘m going to work. And I‘ll be away for a week.‘ She turned to gape, but Dennis had already disappeared up the stairs. He drove north with bubbles of glee jostling up inside him, zinging out into grins, or even a whoops . A whole week of freedom! And in an actual holiday camp! Lounging in the sun, guzzling choc-bars, drifting in a magnificent turquoise pool – Old Harris in Accounts couldn‘t stop talking about his stay in Weymouth. ‗Food incredible,‘ he‘d said. ‗And all those bathing beauties…!‘ ‗Ha-Ha!‘ chortled Dennis. He‘d seen pictures of bathing beauty contests in the newspapers. Every holiday camp held one. There was sure to be ... ‗Welcome to Wales‘ said the sign, and the bubbles inside Dennis exploded. The Morris Traveller windows open to the breeze, bowled along through the warm honey scent of heather. Sheep grazed among bracken and away to either side rose majestic mountains, their sides streaked white with waterfalls. Then gradually the landscape began to flatten, little stone farmhouses, cows, cornfields, hedges trailing honeysuckle. Dennis sniffed in the soft bounty of the afternoon. And something else...he sniffed again. Yes, it must be ...The 47


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Traveller negotiated the corner and there it was! Spread before him like a gift, displayed for a mighty Emperor, was the sea. Sapphire merged into gently heaving emerald, and all was bordered by a vast curve of gold edged with a filigree of ivory. It stretched unbroken as far as the eye could see… except for those… What were they? Low, dark, like massive logs discarded by some careless giant. There were some more by the huts behind those sand dunes, some more in the field… Nissen shelters! What on earth were Nissen shelters doing here? As the car drew closer he could see people with sunhats moving between them, people sitting in deckchairs… Surely this wasn‘t… There was something that looked as if it could have been a swimming pool, but it was empty, and was that an old rowing boat stuck upside down in the middle of it? This couldn‘t be… there wasn‘t a single sign of a bathing beauty! A little man with a cigar opened the rusty iron gate and poked his florid face into Dennis‘s. ‗Welcome to Coldwynd Sands,‘ he beamed.

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Later That Monday Evening

AP

Dennis gazed gloomily out of the window. The sea was still there, oh yes, jewelled, sparkling, all that, but his dream was smashed. Completely and utterly annihilated. Empty swimming pool, soggy deckchairs, not a choc bar in sight. And the holiday makers! They were the most joyless bunch he had ever met. Even back in the planning office they weren‘t as joyless as that. And why had Pootlin brought him out for a meal? Why couldn‘t he have partaken of the feasts detailed by Old Harris in Accounts? With the free beer? The glorious serving wenches? Deep in his heart Dennis knew the answer. He‘d been had. Once again, Dennis Morgan, your resident fall-guy, had been had. Pootlin was spluttering through successive mouthfuls of chips and cod. ‗Ideal for a nuclear site. Got excellent transport connections, for the raw materials and stuff. Train all the way to Liverpool. Nice flat space for building, and it‘s miles away from anywhere. No objections from local residents because there aren‘t any local residents…‘ Dennis raised his eyes to the mush in Pootlin‘s mouth and hastily dropped them again. ‗But I saw plenty of cottages just round the corner,‘ he protested. ‗And farmhouses. And look at this street – all those people shopping. They must live locally.‘ 49


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‗Visitors,‘ said his host. ‗I‘m not saying the place isn‘t popular as a holiday camp. People come for miles. Best place on the coast. Between you and me it brings me in a very good income. But we all have to make sacrifices, don‘t we? In the national interest?‘ ‗So where have all the residents gone?‘ ‗Liverpool. It‘s the scene, isn‘t it? The action. Everyone wants a bit of the action. There‘s no action here now is there?‘ ‗No,‘ said Dennis, and almost wept. ‗Not that I‘m saying Coldwynd Sands isn‘t a grand place to live. Live here myself – you can see my house there – look, up on that hill. That‘s my place. Lovely little nest. Break my heart to leave that, it will. And the missus – don‘t know how I‘ll be able to tear her away.‘ He stuffed in another mouthful. Dennis looked out at the building on the hill. It was on the road he‘d come by. But surely… those turrets… that flagpole… ‗I thought that was The Manor Hotel,‘ he said. Pootlin didn‘t even look up. ‗Used to be,‘ he said, ‗before I bought it. Cost us a bit but the missus‘s heart was set. And I could afford it. I tell you, I‘ll be right sorry to give up this camp. Little goldmine it is. Don‘t know what I‘ll do for the readies when my livelihood‘s all gone. But we all have to make sacrifices, don‘t we?‘ Dennis nodded. He knew about sacrifices. As Dennis and Pootlin walked down the hill from 50


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the chip shop it began to rain. Not the walloping stuff that stimulates flight to the nearest doorway where complete strangers say ‗Whew!‘ to each other and a spirit of bonhomie rapidly evolves, but the thin, persistent miserable stuff through which one feels obliged to plod. Dennis noticed that the sea, robbed of its jewellery, was sulking. He had been robbed too. All his bright sparkling hopes whipped away by a gang of Nissen huts, wrecked deckchairs, and a proprietor whose only interest was in bumping up his compensation. Oh well, why not? Let‘s give the site the OK and go home. Even Home was better than this. Miles of concrete, bomb making, incipient devastation, it would all improve the venue of Coldwyn Sands Holiday Camp. No wonder everyone had abandoned it for Liverpool; he would have completely understood if they‘d abandoned it for the Black Hole of Calcutta. Yes, he‘d recommend the site. No point in ruining some perfectly decent spot when this was available. Pootlin led him to the edge of the camp. ‗Here we are,‘ he breezed. ‗Chalet number 6. I‘m sure you‘ll find everything you need.‘ He was reasonably sure anyway, because he‘d sorted the place himself and pocketed the key. It was a special key, unduplicated by the master, for a fellow needs some privacy from time to time, doesn‘t he? No point in risking chalet maids blundering into the middle of a very pleasant 51


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experience. He flung open the door, confident of a pristine kitchenette, a gleaming built-on bathroom, mould-free walls and an immaculate bed spread. Chalet number 6 was very special. ‗There you are,‘ he said. ‗Breakfast about nine OK? I‘ll come and get you.‘ And he was gone. Dennis closed the door of Chalet number 6. He slumped onto the bed, but no sooner had his weary bones settled than he heard a knock. ‗Cooee!‘ sang a voice, and before he could raise himself she was in. Phyllis Abercrombie – Browne, squatly striped puce and yellow, and holding a thick mug. ‗Brought you a cup of tea,‘ she beamed, and sat down next to him. ‗Oh, you‘re all wet,' she cried, bouncing up again. ‗I‘ll get you a towel. You drink your tea.‘ The mug was warm, comforting, and the tea – although it tasted rather funny, for a change of water always takes a bit of getting used to doesn‘t it? – went down a treat. It coursed along sweetly, spreading a glow right down to his toes, as his mother used to say. He felt his shoulders un-hunch, his spine relax – even his legs and feet seemed grateful. ‗Here we are,‘ carolled Phyllis, bearing in a mass of white fluffiness. ‗Bend your head down and I‘ll give it a rub.‘ She sat beside him and began to massage. The towel was luxurious. It was like no towel Dennis had ever known. Round and round it went, gently soothing, so the 52


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muscle-knots round his eyes, his mouth, his jaw, began to loosen. Dennis seemed to be melting. ‗Let‘s do the front now,‘ Phyllis whispered, and flowed round until she could pat his face. Pat, pat went the magic towel, over his chin, his cheeks, his closed eyes, the top of his head, the back. Dennis slumped forward into the cushion of Phyllis and let out a sigh of complete content. ‗That‘s it,‘ she said. ‗Let‘s get comfy now.‘ The towel dropped with a muffled plop and a plump arm crept softly round him. ‗Let‘s just relax and have a little chat.‘ Dennis relaxed like a bluebell out of water for a week. He smiled, happier than he‘d been for years. When his mam died he‘d married quickly, but had been disappointed. For twenty five years he‘d patiently borne that disappointment, and now his reward had come. Here at last was an angel come to look after him, to encircle him in a sweet marshmallow of love. ‗You had a nice lunch then?‘ asked the angel. ‗Lovely,‘ he agreed ‗Chips?‘ He nodded and snuggled up further. ‗And a nice chat with Harry?‘ Dennis nodded once more. ‗He does go on, doesn‘t he? What was he talking about this time?‘ ‗Compensation,‘ murmured Dennis. ‗Compensation for what?‘ 53


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‗For when we knock his house down‘ ‗Why would you knock his house down?‘ ‗For the Nuclear site. We can‘t have houses in the way.‘ ‗What Nuclear site?‘ ‗The one they‘re going to build.‘ ‗Here?‘ ‗Yes. When they‘ve knocked the camp down. You see…‘ and Dennis finally slept.

Monday Night

AP

Phyllis tightened her mouth. So that was it! She laid Dennis Morgan‘s head gently on the pillow and crept away, Pootlin had made a deal. They‘d all be out of work. What else was there in the way of employment round here? Compensation – his would be enormous. Caribbean mansion enormous. Yachts and racehorses enormous. And hers? And everyone else‘s? Zilch. She‘d seen the books – nothing there for redundancy pay. And nobody else had a house to be obligingly flattened. Most of them lived in council property – the town hall would make a few thousand there, 54


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she dared say. But the staff…? Maybe they could all go and torch Pootlin‘s place before the bulldozers arrived? There‘d be nothing to compensate then. The swine wouldn‘t have a penny… But common sense reared its boring head – prison wasn‘t an endearing prospect, not to one as fastidious as Phyllis. And Pootlin was probably insured up to the hilt. So what to do? There must be something. Her head spinning she reached the corner of the reception hall and slowed down her pace. She needed time to think for a minute or two. The wind whipped at her hair, a roosting seagull cried out in alarm as it took off from the chalet roof. The bird sounded just like she felt inside.

Monday Night

PS

Phyllis glanced around to make sure no-one was watching, then lit a fag and inhaled luxuriously. That was better! She didn‘t often get the chance, since Mr Pootlin‘s edict against smoking while on duty. She would happily have stood there forever, but after only a few drags someone came round the corner of the next building. With a dexterity fashioned by long experience, she whipped the cigarette out of her mouth and under the corner of her jacket, and assumed an expression of innocent unconcern. 55


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But it wasn‘t any of the regular staff, just a young man with dark curly hair and glasses, clutching a notebook and pencil. He wasn‘t a total stranger: where had she seen him before? Of course! He‘d been at the last meeting, and Mr Pootlin had introduced him, but for the life of her she couldn‘t remember his name or why he was there; she‘d been far too occupied trying to catch Cecil‘s eye. But he must have been fairly important, not just yet another new temporary employee, or Pootlin wouldn‘t have bothered. And yes! She remembered he‘d scribbled notes in his little book throughout the meeting. And here he was with the notebook again! The thought occurred to her: was he perhaps some new manager Pootlin had taken on? Or was he a representative from a company planning to take over the camp? He looked a bit young for that, but you couldn‘t be too sure these days. In any event, here was an chance to get on the right side of him at the start. He didn‘t look her type at all, but her job could be at stake. ‗Hi. Weren‘t you at the meeting?‘ ‗Yes. I‘m Christopher. I‗m just having a look round.‘ ‗That‘s nice. I‘m Phyllis: Phyllis Abercrombie -Browne: I‘m a supervisor here. Come along with me, Chris, and I‘ll show you round.‘ ‗Christopher. I prefer Christopher.‘ What a drip, thought Phyllis. But she could56


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n‘t let the opportunity pass. So she showed him round the camp, carefully stressing its potential if only it got some decent management. ‗There‘s a few problems at the moment, I don‘t deny‘, she told him, ‗but some of us here could really make the place work, if we just got the chance!‘ Finally she took him back to her room and indicated to him to sit down on the bed. She produced a bottle of gin and poured out a couple of glasses. ‗Just call me Ginny!‘ she giggled, casting him what was intended as a provocative glance. Christopher hesitated. ‗Do you have any Cinzano to put in it? To make a Martini?‘ ‗A Martini? Ooh, it‘s nice to meet someone who‘s really sophisticated! I can tell you‘re going to make this place much classier! No Cinzano, I‘m afraid. Is there anything else I can get for you, Chris?‘ ‗Christopher.‘ The things I do for England! she thought as she plonked herself down beside him. The tight skirt rose up even higher than usual, displaying an impressive acreage of thigh, which she contrived to brush ever so gently against his. ‗There is something I‗d like to ask you‘, he said. ‗Fire away.‘ ‗Where did you get the Abercrombie?‘ ‗You what?‘ ‗The Abercrombie. Because before, you were 57


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just Phyllis Browne.‘ ‗I don‘t know what you‘re talking about!‘ ‗Yes you do! Cavendish Road Secondary School! I was three years below you, so you mightn‘t remember me, but I remember you! The Fat Filly, we used to call you. When I saw you trying to hide that cigarette, it reminded me of the time they caught you smoking behind the gym, and you got sent to the headmaster!‘ ‗I went to boarding school!‘ ‗No you didn‘t! Don‘t pretend to be all posh! You used to try it on even then, but it didn‘t fool anyone. Now you‘ve gone double-barrelled, but I can see you haven‘t changed at all. But don‘t worry: your secret is safe with me - on certain conditions . . .‘ AP ‗So you‘ve been chatting to our Dennis,‘ he said. Phyllis stiffened. ‗How did you know that?‘ Christopher tapped his nose. ‗Got the instinct.‘ ‗Why shouldn‘t I chat to Mr Morgan?‘ ‗No reason, no reason at all. But what were you chatting about, that‘s the question, isn‘t it?‘ ‗And a private conversation concerns you?‘ ‗It just might concern others too. Those who have a right to know. Because a little bird tells me your lovely Dennis is some sort of official. Somebody who might have an influence on the future of a lot of people.‘ 58


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‗Why should I tell you what we talked about?‘ ‗Because, you see…‘ He tapped his nose and grinned. Phyllis saw. Phyllis stared at Christopher Cross and her eyes narrowed. She was damned if she‘d give in easily. Snivelling little snout. Oh yes, she remembered Christopher Cross. Christopher Creep he‘d been called. The Creep. A slimy worm, silently easing himself into other people‘s business. The sort who nose out things you‘d have imagined nobody could possibly find out. Like when that bloody fag fell down into… Nobody else ever knew. The case was closed. But she knew it could be re-opened and then all hell would break loose. But nobody had the faintest idea - except The Creep. He should have been a News of the Times reporter, he‘d been born for it… Phyllis blinked. He had been born for it. He was a reporter, wasn‘t he? He was here to spy on this wreck of a camp and ruin them all. Actually, he might save them all. What a riot he might induce. What a traffic-stopping, shop-closing, screaming on the streets affair the Creep could effect if the news of a Nuclear site on this beautiful coastline got out. Why, didn‘t the lesser spotted wader wade here, and nowhere else in Britain was he to be found? Weren‘t there otters in the rivers, badgers in the woods? At least the Creep might be persuaded there were, and he would easily persuade his 59


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paper. Nothing the News of the Times liked better than a good riot. Nothing the public liked more than queuing up to lie in front of bulldozers that threatened something feathery or furry. Coldwynd Sands need fear no closure if the News of the Times got hold of this story. But something stopped Phyllis from blurting it all out. Surely she could turn this to her best advantage. There might even be a way to get rid of Pootlin – and that idiot Cecil Thoroughgood. Look where the place had got to with him running it. He couldn‘t be trusted to run a bath. But Phyllis knew she could. She could make the place into the best holiday camp in the country – she‘d planned it often. She‘d borrow from the bank and build a Marina. Phyllis had read about Marinas in a magazine left by one of the punters. She knew that what they need above anything is wind – and had this place got wind! She saw the rich and famous sailing in and dawdling up the beach to sparkling chalets all resembling Chalet number 6 - with proper bathrooms and central heating. She saw them idling in a heated swimming pool with shining turquoise tiles, eating in a first rate restaurant with smiling staff… And they could do nature trails, pony trekking, canoeing, shooting Pistyll Caine, the local waterfall. Phyllis couldn‘t understand why people should want to do such things, but she knew they did. She‘d got a business plan that any bank would leap at. 60


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‗So you see,‘ concluded Phyllis, ‗it‘s a very important site.‘ Christopher Cross was trying to make his pencil stand on end, but when he realised Phyllis had stopped talking he tossed it in the air and caught it. ‗You talked about badgers?‘ he said flatly. ‗And the Nuclear installation.‘ ‗What?‘ The Creep‘s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. ‗A Nuclear installation? Here? On the campsite?‘ Phyllis nodded. ‗Whew!‘ ‗Satisfied?‘ asked Phyllis. ‗I should say so! Wait till local people hear about this. Pootlin‘s compensation will be enormous! They‘ll have to build the road past his house too.‘ ‗Cecil Thoroughgood won‘t do so badly either,‘ added Phyllis hopefully. She was not disappointed. ‗Wow, no. He‘ll do fine. He‘s got something over that Harry Pootlin, did you know? Something to do with black-marketing during the war.‘ Phyllis hadn‘t known, although she‘d always wondered why such a fool had been paid 61


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to wreck what could have been a perfectly good business, but she nodded again. ‗They‘ll take the money and run, won‘t they? Wow, what a tale!‘ ‗And the lesser whatsit and the badgers and stuff – the nation will go berserk!‘ Earlier That Same Monday Morning

SMS

Reg Robinson stamped out the dog end with the toe of his plimsoll and rubbed his hands together and blew on them. It was a mite chilly on the picket line at that time of the morning. He was just thinking the streets weren‘t even aired yet when he spotted fellow Blazer Boy Fred Albright walking towards him, the on shore sea-breeze attacking his Beatle-bob haircut something fierce. ‗Hey Up mate! How‘s the hairspray holding up? ‗Oi! Never mind my barnet. I want a word with you. What‘s all this about Coppnull Road Secondary Modern handing out degrees? You are a card Reg. How did you get her to swallow that line? . . . More jam than Hartley‘s you are.‘ ‗Not you as well,‘ said Reg, his face ashen, ‗does the whole ruddy camp know?‘ Fred grinned broadly as he tried to light up a B&H sheltering the match under his Blazer. ‗All I said to Sue was, ‗it doesn‘t take a 62


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degree in sociology to understand the workings of the mind of a capitalist swine like Pootlin.‘ ‗And she thought you said . . . ‘ laughed Fred kicking the side of the fire brazier. Reg jumped back as a shower of sparks shot up into the air. Then as the fire settled Reg tossed in another bit of broken deck-chair leg for good measure. ‗She misheard that‘s all. Now she thinks I‘m bloody Einstein. What can I do? She‘s making herself look daft as well as me.‘ ‗Give over,‘ said Fred in his best attempt at a soothing bedside manner. ‗It‘s only a five day wonder it‘ll be forgotten in no time . . . Doctor Robinson . . .‘ Fred backed away from Reg‘s swinging right arm and chortled his way over towards Polly and Mavis who were restringing the torn banner across the camp gate which had come adrift in the unexpected gale, which, fortunately, had blown itself out over night. Beaming Polly, a bonny picture of rosy good health if a bit slow on the uptake, latched onto Fred‘s arm. ‗What you saying to our Reg? You‘re not winding him up again are you? He‘s a little bit fragile. Bless him.‘ ‗Me . . . as if I would . . . pure as the driven I am. Fragile! . . . Is that what you call it? He‘s on a one way ticket to the altar unless he bucks his ideas up.‘ ‗Ahhh bless . . . What‘s wrong with a bit of 63


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romance? Holding hands . . . Like in the Beatles song.‘ Polly gazed misty eyed towards where Reg was standing poking the brazier. Never one to miss an opening Fred jumped in, ‗You know Polly. . . What I would do for a night out with a lovely girl like you.‘ ‗Don‘t give me that line of eyewash. Who drained the pool I want to know,‘ whispered Polly, breathing hotly into his ear. ‗And what happened to the swing boat? That was dangerous Fred. Somebody could have been hurt,‘ added Mavis in a high pitched sing-song accent. Mavis had a voice that could have sliced bread but she couldn‘t help coming from Cardiff Bay as she frequently told everyone. As Polly‘s snooty Aunty Josie lived in Penarth she didn‘t understand what Mavis was going on about anyway. Fred was annoyed. ‗And naturally everybody thinks I did it!! Well it wasn‘t me. I might have thought about it but it wasn‘t me. I see you lot aren‘t giving Reg the third degree . . . why me?‘ ‗Reg has got more sense than you that‘s why,‘ added Mavis who was not at all happy how that dumpling Polly Braithwaite had taken up territorial rights over Fred‘s right arm all of a sudden. ‗Eh up here they come. Watch yourselves it‘s the first bus,‘ shouted Fred. Blinking, Reg stepped away from the brazier. The four Blazers on picket duty picked up their placards and huddled together on the pavement 64


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to face the first coach attempting to cross the picket-line. Reg‘s face told a perplexed story, he‘d heard Fred deny emptying the pool and not sabotaging the swing-boat. . . If Fred hadn‘t done it. Who the devil had? And why? Monday - The First Coach of Five-DayBreakers Arrives

EH

The last few miles to Pootlin‘s holiday camp were the worst. The coach full of families from the Midlands was just about ready to erupt, there had been vomiting children unused to travel, arguing women, spilled drinks and a young couple who couldn‘t wait to get to their chalet finding the back seat just as convenient for their goingson. So it was the last straw when the camp gates were reached to find a sheet stretched across the road proclaiming, ‗NO MEALS READY - NO BEDS MADE - POOTLIN‘S FIDDLING OUR JOBS!‘ Barp. Barp. Baaarrrp . . . rang out from the first coach. The driver only slowed down to miss two Blazer Boys holding placards, ‗Gerrout the way,‘ he shouted, ‗I‘ve seen better strikes than this at British Leyland,‘ and he didn‘t pull up until he reached the reception hut. Bert and Sadie Jenkins in the front seat were being pushed off. ‗Stop yerr shoving, we need the loo just the same as you.‘ 65


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From the back of the coach came a man‘s urgent cry, ‗Come on Betty grab our Derek before he‘s crushed in the aisle, it‘s Bedlam back here.‘ And, still the two lovers were interlocked on the back seat. ‗Will you lot be quiet,‘ yelled the driver, ‗I‘m trying to make myself heard.‘ But, Alf Longbotham and his missus had found the emergency door and were already out in the road followed by bawling and crying children. Bert and Sadie pulling their children along behind matched the Longbothams step by step to the reception desk elbows and cases used to help them in. ‗I‘ll stay here Bert,‘ whispered Sadie in his ear, ‗you go and find that big chalet we had last year, you know near the bar. Looks as if it‘s going to be a do-it-yourself holiday this year, and take the kids.‘ As usual Bert did as he was told. ‗What sort of a welcome‘s this?‘ bawled Sadie at the cringing girl behind the desk. ‗I‘m doing my best! Try and keep those children quiet will you, there‘s some tea in the Hall.‘ She was intimidated by the crowding punters and obviously had no idea what to do. Only a few of them heard her and went off to find the hall. ‗OUT - OUT - OUT,‘ came a blast from the tannoy. ‗Where‘s Pootlin!‘ ‗WE WANT POOTLIN,‘ was followed by another voice saying, ‗Stop Pootlin fiddlin‘, ‗NO Meals, NO beds made.‘ Pandemonium broke out in the reception 66


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hall and outside. ‗Where are we supposed to put the cases?‘ bawled the coach driver. ‗It‘s not my job to do it. Where are the camp staff?‘ He just dumped the pile of bags on the path and made to get away, he didn‘t want to get involved in any sit-down strike thank you! By now several families had found chalets by not bothering to register with reception. Bert had got the one they had had last year, but stopped short by the doorway to see the mess left inside. The rooms were just as the last holiday makers had left them on Saturday. There was even a soiled nappy under the cot. ‗Strewth,‘ he said to himself, ‗Sadie‘s not going to like this.‘ In the hall Alf Longbotham got up on the stage, knowing about such things, what with him being an electrician by trade, he found the microphone. ‗Stop that row and listen to me! We‘ve got to do something about this strike.‘ ‗Hear. Hear,‘ came one answer. ‗What about finding the Manager? Bet he‘s hiding in his office.‘ ‗Can‘t wait for all that,‘ shouted Alf, ‗get your own cases and find yourselves an empty chalet. We‘ll show them about sit-down power.‘ ‗We want our tea,‘ moaned more than one child. ‗Where are the loos?‘ cried another, ‗I want a wee.‘ 67


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At that the door was banged open and Sadie came in full flight. ‗What is going on here?‘ she was making for the stage and she didn‘t need a mike. Sadie had a fog-horn for a voice from long practice in the factory canteen. She hadn‘t expected to be doing any cooking on her holiday but . . . . ‗Show me the kitchens, I‘ll want some help so look lively,‘ and off she went like a steam train. There was no signs of activity in the kitchen but one man was waiting. ‗I‘ve stopped long enough to put you right. My name‘s Gordon I‘m the part time kitchen hand, only I‘m supposed to be out with the strikers so expect trouble if I‘m spotted in here.‘ With Gordon‘s help Sadie and the fed-up helpers who‘d been on catering duty since Saturday put together a scratch meal. ‗Send them in for beans on toast and pancakes will you Louis, they‘ll have to eat in batches.‘ As it turned out the strikers didn‘t come in to trouble them, in fact one or two sneaked in for a sly sandwich and a cuppa. ‗What‘s this strike all about?‘ Louis, a waiter for British Rail, wanted to know. ‗I don‘t mind making a bit of custard for the kid‘s tea, but it‘s a bit much when you‘re on holiday.‘ Red faced Gordon said, ‗I can‘t stop any longer. I‘ll be missed at the Blazer Boy‘s strike meeting. They already suspect I‘m in with Pootlin 68


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over the closure of the camp.‘ With that Gordon was up and gone leaving an impression behind that he knew a great deal more than he was saying about the possible camp closure. Monday Morning – More Five-Day-Breakers Arrive

AR

The last coach of the day finally spluttered to a halt in a cloud of smoky exhaust fumes at the front of the reception block. There was a scrimmage amongst the passengers as they all made a bid for fresh air and escape from the pressure cooker they had endured for three long, hot, and sticky hours. In the back seat Sandy was applying yet more mascara to already panda like eyes while Suzy raised the beehive on her head even higher with the tail of her comb. Finally satisfied both girls closed their vanity cases before standing up to tug at the hems of their miniskirts. ‗Eh Sand, I think I would have joined them kids loosing their dinners if we‘d had to go much further in this rust bucket, just hope the rooms are a bit more modern.‘ Stepping gingerly over piles of sand covering the evidence of the harrowing journey her friend screwed up her nose before replying, ‗the brochure said this place was a first class camp 69


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with swimming pool and all mod cons, ideal for the young at heart and that‘s us for sure.‘ ‗It‘s to be hoped it is as this bunch on the bus didn‘t include anyone apart from the kids under at least twenty-five and unless…….. Oh bloody hell!‘ Her views on their fellow passengers was brought to an abrupt halt as the pointed toe of her white stiletto found one of the sand covered mounds in the aisle. After signing in at Reception and picking up their keys, the two excited teenagers made their way on tottering heels as they struggled with suitcases bulging under the strain of the entire contents of their wardrobes. Turning the corner the two girls almost bumped into two young men in striped blazers deep in animated conversation. ‗I‘m just telling you what Fred told me he heard the Guv‘nor say, and Fred said we all had to go to a meeting in the staff canteen right now.‘ Then noticing the two pretty girls he nudged his friend and, in unison, they grabbed the suitcases from the girls while taking in the short skirts and high heels. ‗Hello gorgeous ladies you shouldn‘t be carrying those heavy suitcases,‘ and with a well practiced manoeuvre slid a hand around the backs of the two giggling girls who were only too willing to be swept along. Their strike meeting forgotten the boys 70


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started to work their charm routine only to be drowned out by the noise of four motor bikes roaring to a halt in front of reception. The two girls ‗boy radar‘ registered the good looking boys on the bikes and hardly able to contain the excitement in her voice Suzy exclaimed, ‗Well our Sand, this holiday is getting better by the second. I think we might be going to have a good time here after all.‘

Fortunately as the girl‘s chalet was in the opposite direction to the lido they didn‘t notice the sunken galleon lying drunkenly on its side on the bottom of the, now empty, swimming pool surrounded by soggy deck-chairs and broken beer bottles. 71


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The Same Monday Morning

CMH

Beryl Oldcastle woke up on the none too wide double bed, rolled over and ran her fingers through Bert‘s hair. He awoke at the touch, sleepy eyed, and not at all his usual self, reached out and gave her a little tickle at the back of the neck where he knew she was very sensitive. ‗What‘s the plans for today then?‘ he asked in a low voice, being only too well aware that the partitions were not exactly soundproof. ‗What have you got down for the morning? I saw you talking to the Abercrombie woman; false as a wagon load of monkeys that one, and plotting with our Susan, and I‘ll bet there were others I don‘t know about. You are plotting something, so what‘s on . . . although on second thoughts it‘s maybe better that I don‘t know. That way I can always plead ignorance. Just as long as it doesn‘t cost me more than the truck load of money that I may have to shell out for food today. I‘m going to get in and see this Pootlin fellow. I reckon if I hit him severely around the head with a threat to bankrupt him, I can prise some money out of the tight fisted old sod.‘ After a few moments thought Beryl replied, ‗I‘m not sure yet. I‘ve a couple of ideas but there‘s a few people that I want to see first. Above all, I want to see our Susan settled down with that young man of hers. Reg looks like a sensible fellow, clever, or he wouldn‘t have got 72


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that degree, quite good looking and washes regularly – which is more than I can say for you this morning Bert. You smell like a randy old goat.‘ Bert smilingly replied, ‗You didn‘t mind a randy old goat last night if I remember rightly,‘ and got the reply. ‗That was last night. This is now, and I don‘t want you scratching my skin with your bristles. GO!‘ She pointed imperiously towards the bathroom door, ‗go and get a bath or wash or something while I have a think.‘ So saying she gave him a kiss, pushed him out of bed and, with a musing expression on her face, settled herself back. After a breakfast rather heavy on cereals and potatoes, the camp started on a new day of jollity. Beryl put on her best motherly act and went to talk to Susan, and ended up talking to a few of the others on picket duty that morning. Most got a few minutes of her time and some general chat. Polly, the fluttery secretary to the camp manager, got the full force Beryl treatment and ended up telling her a lot more than she thought she had or indeed more than she realised she knew. It was a distraught Polly who revealed what she had overheard and read in confidential memos. Polly was, by this time, so keyed up by the conflict of not having been paid for weeks, and thus being unable to help her parents out with some ready money, being on strike, and 73


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what she saw as a duty towards her boss, that she was ready to talk to anyone who showed her some sympathy. She talked about Pootlin‘s desire to get out. A Pootlin who didn‘t care as long as the site was sold – as long as it was cash and quick he would go for anything over £150,000 but was angling for £300,000 - the problems with the staff, cash flow, the competition for the site, and from other holiday camps; all came spilling out of her. ‗But you won‘t tell anybody will you?‘ was her final plea, ‗I could get the sack for telling you all that.‘ Beryl assured her that nothing would pass her lips. Jotting down a few notes to assist in refining her thoughts wasn‘t mentioned. After lunch, another scratch meal that brought out some complaints, she went into town to the local branch of her bank. Once satisfied of her identity, and the size of her bank account, the bank manager turned out to be very helpful in putting her in touch with several of the town‘s more knowledgeable, and notable, inhabitants.

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Earlier That Same Monday Morning

AR

Approaching the entrance to what looked more like a prison camp than a holiday camp with miles of wire fencing exposing shabby wooden huts surrounded by untended grass and flower beds overgrown with weeds the latest visitors to Pootlin‘s Holiday Camp wondered what they had let themselves in for. ‗My giddy aunt . . . Rick take a butchas at this place. I know you said it was run down but this place looks like it needs running down with a bulldozer!‘ ‗I know Jimmy but the more dilapidated it is the more we‘ll be able to knock old Pootlin down and just remember, don‘t say a word to anyone about the rumours that we heard he‘s in dire straights. As far as they are concerned I‘m just here as the top of the bill for the rest of the week.‘ ‗Well me old mate, unless your fans have turned on you I think that particular cat might be out of the bag. If my eyes don‘t deceive me that looks like a picket line at the gate. Bit of a motley crew mind, one old fellah with a placard and a few embarrassed looking guys and gals in god damn awful striped blazers who don‘t look as if they know why they‘re there and what to do.‘ ‗Let‘s hope this doesn‘t mean we‘ve got competition, I think this would be just the place for our Health and Meditation Spa.‘ Come on 75


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Jimmy just point this old bus at the gate and switch on the charm.‘ With that the orange dormobile with psychedelic daisies painted all over it turned and headed up the driveway to the welcoming committee of a much bemused Reg Robinson, and flustered, Evie and Sharon. Lowering his placard as he leant into the open window Reg was surprised to be greeted by a face he knew well from the television screen. In an attempt at authority in his voice he cleared his throat before uttering, ‗Mr Stevens how lovely to see you but has no one informed you that all shows have been cancelled due to‘ .. Again he cleared his throat before adding in a rush, ‗industrial action taken by the staff.‘ By now a crowd of guests and other staff had appeared and soon surrounded the multicoloured van. Suzy, Sandy and their new motorbike riding boyfriends were pushing through the crowd trying to get a look inside the fab vehicle. ‗Oh, I think it‘s Ricky Stevens,‘ Sandy gasped as she caught sight of the tousled curly hair, his trade mark in these days of greased back hair like Cliff or ‗Beatle‘ cuts. Johnny, Sandy‘s new conquest tried to appear cool as he said, ‗I‘m not so into these new peace and love singers, too deep and meaningful for me, give me the Stones any day.‘ ‗Yeah,‘ piped up Andy, ‗but we may as well 76


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go and see him tonight, beats anything else they have to offer in this dump.‘ Rocker credentials intact Johnny agreed it might be good to go and see the show tonight. Running as much as he could and now red in the face, Harry Pootlin, closely followed by the ever eager Phyllis, pushed a path through the crowd. ‗Mr Stevens how wonderful to welcome you, I apologise for not being at the gate when you arrived but as you may have ascertained,‘ waving his arm in the general direction of Reg and the other protesters, ‗I have been having some staff difficulties due to a quite unsubstantiated rumour but have no fear everything will be in order for your performance tonight and now if you would like to follow me I have reserved the best chalet on the site for you and your. . . um friend.‘ This last comment directed at Jimmy who was scarcely able to stifle his laughter at the pompous oaf obviously not comfortable with Rick‘s request for a king-size bed in his chalet. Let the old fool think what he likes. ‗Just remember what I‘ve said Jimmy, we want to keep the old fool sweet until we get the lay of the land.‘ ‗I know, I know, but couldn‘t I give him just a little nudge with the van,‘ he joked as the even more agitated Harry tried to clear a path for the orange monstrosity bearing down on him. 77


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Tuesday Morning

AP

Phyllis was up with the lark – she‘d have to tell Christopher Creep about the lark – and sang as she dressed. For Phyllis had a plan. She‘d been up all night racking her brains for this plan. OK, she‘d sorted Pootlin and cleared Thoroughgood out of the way - they‘d never be allowed to carry on when the News of the Times had proclaimed its message to the nation. But she didn‘t want the place closed. She knew she couldn‘t raise the money to start a new camp from scratch and there‘d be planning permission and all sorts of tedium. No, she wanted this camp to stay open, and she didn‘t want it requisitioned by the government. She had to stop this nuclear development nonsense, and now she knew how she could do it. She placed a final dab of lipstick and sallied forth. Now Phyllis, although not as expert as the Creep, was not above noticing things, and one of the things she‘d noticed was some lads having a crafty smoke in a dip in the dunes. She‘d only been able to see them through her binoculars, admittedly, but they didn‘t need to know that. She also knew they idolised that hippy fellow with his band and so guessed they were not partaking of your regular fag. She should have reported this to their parents straight away, of course, but you have to take the gifts the gods provide, and the parents would know soon 78


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enough. She was in fact doing more than her duty, because everyone else would know too, and the shamed parents would be inclined to take the most effective measures. Another thing Phyllis had noticed was a dip in the wet sands at low tide. It was a curious dip, stretching from the sea‘s edge to the dunes in a long line about six feet wide, and it was always there. What on earth could it be? Even as an infant she‘d been a questioning soul and driven her parents mad, and, as this particular question refused to go away, she finally asked her Gran. Phyllis took after her Gran, who, apparently, had always been similarly irritating. ‗It‘s the mines,‘ said her Gran. ‗They used to stretch all the way out to sea. Don‘t use them nowadays. To tell you the truth most of them have fell in. I was next to one once when it fell in. What a stink it threw up! Methane gas they said. It forms. You‘d best be keeping well clear.‘ So Phyllis had kept well clear, in fact she‘d completely forgotten about the old mine tunnel, but at last, in the middle of the night, she‘d remembered. She knew exactly where to find the hippy wannabes at that hour of the morning. Tuesday

CMH

In typically British tradition the holiday weather was rain, sleeting down from a leaden sky, the 79


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wind whistling in off the grey sea, and a forecast that said, ‗Forget it if you want to go outside today!‘ Breakfast was a great improvement on Monday‘s with lots of nice juicy bacon, sausages, scrambled egg, tomatoes, fried bread and, for those who were on a diet, or had a strange outlook on what a proper breakfast ought to be, fruit and cereals. At the now customary morning committee meeting Bert was congratulated upon getting all the ingredients delivered without a lot of fuss. ‗Once I‘d got that man Pootlin on one side and told him, either he played up and paid up, or he‘d go bankrupt, it was easy,‘ he told them. ‗Without that Thoroughgood man at his side he sees sense. ―Uncle Cecil‖ my foot! More like ―Undertaker Cecil‖ if you ask me. No! There‘s something going on here. Something that we‘re not supposed to know about. Not the strike, we all know about that; but something else. Something that Pootlin and Thoroughgood have very good reason to make sure that, except for themselves, nobody knows about. I‘m not sure if this strike is a nuisance to them or good camouflage. But I intend to find out if I can.‘ He didn‘t say that his other half was already working on it. Beryl had taken the car and gone off again to see some folks who lived along the coast. They were not the sort of people who had ever been counted amongst the top rank of the local citizenry, but they were people who knew things. 80


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Without exception they were elderly but, between them, they knew the all-important details of what had gone on in the area in the last century or so. Over several cups of tea, and plates of biscuits, she asked questions and got answers, detailed answers, in some cases documented answers. One, an elderly woman, who called her Dear, and who got her name wrong most of the time, was a fount of information. ‗Well Dear. When Sir Arthur was alive…‘ - began most of her answers. ‗Ohh that holiday camp place,‘ she said. ‗Well Dear. They should never have built it there in the first place. Of course, it was the War Office that built it originally you know? After the war, it was shut down for a few years, reduced to a care and maintenance basis it was. Huh! Care and maintenance indeed! All that lot did was sit around and drink tea all day, except when there was an inspection due and then they scurried round for a week or two.‘ ‗There was a man in charge… can‘t think of his name. Began with a ‗T‘ and something to do with horses I think. Throughton, or Trueblood, or something like that if I remember rightly. Then there was that scandal when all those stores went missing, some poor fellow, a corporal I think he was, got the blame. That was hushed up of course. Well it would be in those days wouldn‘t it?‘ ‗Of course the entire area got flooded on the 81


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Spring neap tide in ‘48. What with the water from the snows we had in ‘47, and the extra high tide, and the fact that the sea wall had never been repaired; it followed didn‘t it? Funny you

should ask because that sea wall still hasn‘t been replaced, and if the tunnels are flooded again? I would not like to be living anywhere around there. They‘ll be up to their necks in water in no time at all!‘ When Beryl asked about the tunnels she was pointed to a man living, ‗Just up the hill a bit dear. You can‘t miss his house it‘s the one with the green gables.‘ Tuesday Morning

AR

Ricky was awoken by a loud insistent knocking on the door. ‗All right, all right, I‘m coming‘ he called as he scrambled into his jeans. 82


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On the doorstep stood a bedraggled Gordon holding a tray of breakfast, raindrops plopping into the teacup sending a spray of watered down tea all over the well soaked bacon and eggs. ‗Come on mate let me in,‘ he whispered as he pushed past the bleary eyed Ricky. ‗Shut that door quickly before someone sees or they‘ll all want breakfast in their rooms. The rest of the kitchen staff already think I‘m a blackleg for keeping in with old Pootlin and I can tell you Ricky this kitchen dogsbody work is not something I expected when I signed up to be a roadie.‘ ‗Give over moaning Gordon; you know I‘ll make it worth your while if you‘ve found out anything I can use.‘ ‗Well mate, I can tell you that Pootlin and that old stuffshirt Cecil Thoroughgood were in the army together, based here when this was an army camp and that they looked after the stores. Then though, it was Thoroughgood who was the Captain and old Pootlin was his Sergeant. I can‘t quite prove it but I think Pootlin had a blackmarket scam going and that old Cecil turned a blind eye, perhaps Pootlin had something on him, bit of a ladies man so I gather. Anyway, when Pootlin left after his two year call up he had made enough money to buy this place from the MoD when National Service ended. Thoroughgood is useless as a General Manager so he must have either put some money in on the QT, or, told 83


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Pootlin he‘d spill the beans about how he got his money.‘ ‗Thanks Gordon me old son, a few innuendoes dropped into negotiations with the old buffer and this place is as good as ours, can‘t see as how he can sell to anyone else if he thinks I‘ll blow the whistle on his little, what shall we say, creative accounting irregularities when he was a servant of Her Majesty.‘ ‗Thanks boss, I think I‘d better try and slip back now or I‘ll face the inquisition as to how it took so long to deliver your breakfast even if I say I‘m a fan. Good job it‘s raining cats and dogs or I reckon half the girls would be camping on your doorstep after the way they were screaming at you last night.‘ With a smile, a tap of his finger on the side of his nose and a nod of his head towards the closed bedroom door Ricky guided his friend towards the door saying, ‗Who said they stopped at screaming.‘ Back out in the rain Gordon muttered, ‗Jammy devil,‘ and set off back to the kitchen. Tuesday Morning

SMS

Gloria Allerdyce started the morning as usual and broke wind. One bloodshot eye opened as she spluttered into the pillow while reaching for a fag. ‗Better out than in . . . One brown ale too many last night Gloria old girl!‘ 84


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It was raining. She could tell from the sounds of a dozen seagulls‘ feet paddling on the chalet‘s corrugated-iron roof. ‗Shut up you noisy so-and-sos,‘ Gloria shouted as she aimed a stiletto at the ceiling. The shoe bounced back hitting her shoulder as she was being racked by a coughing fit. Unfazed she lit up the B&H and snorted a draught of welcoming nicotine into her depleted bloodstream. BING – BONG – BING – BONG. ‗HO-Diddly-HO!‘ cried an unfamiliar voice blasting out from the tannoy outside the chalet. Groaning Gloria buried her head under the blanket, realised she got a fag burning and sat up quick. Now what? Couldn‘t an old girl be left in peace? What ever time was this to be woken up? The answer came immediately via the tannoy. ‗HO-Diddly-HO! And a Great Good Morning to you all. It‘s Bert Oldcastle here, your Campers‘ Committee Chairman. Are you wearing a big smile?‘ ‗Tell ‘em the time,‘ said a muffled voice. ‗Ahh yes. It‘s 7.30 or half past seven if you prefer.‘ ‗Get on with it Bert,‘ came another stage whispered instruction. ‗Breakfast! First sitting will be served at eight sharp and second sitting at eight thirty. So as they say in the navy . . . it‘s hands off . . .‘ 85


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‗BERT!! You can‘t say that. . . there‘s kids ear-wigging. . . So get a move on if you want any porridge,‘ said the irritated woman‘s voice taking over the microphone. With that the tannoy let out a high pitched whine then went dead. Gloria scratched her belly and swung both legs out of bed onto the cold lino floor. A cracked mirror resting on the utility dressing table glared back at her and gloated. ‗I knew I should have had me roots done last week,‘ she wheezed, grabbing her sponge bag and making for the door. The queue for the Ladies was snaking round the corner. Gloria sheltered under the eves of the toilet block roof her damp dressing gown flapping round her thighs in the stiff breeze. ‗Bogs won‘t flush,‘ said the barely audible voice of a woman with a roll-up dangling off her bottom lip, still wearing curlers, and three kids in tow coming out of the loos. Thinking itself out of arms reach, the last child piped up, ‗It was gross. Floating . . . there was a great big . .‘ A clip round the ear silenced the graphic description of just how unpleasant her morning‘s ablutions were going to be. Gloria fiddled in her sponge bag only to discover an empty crumpled packet and sighed. Just then as she looked around for a willing victim to loan her another fag, she spotted the light of her life, Reggie Robinson. 86


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The man of her dreams was coming out of a chalet straightening his tie and tucking in his shirt. That was odd. It wasn‘t his chalet; she knew where his chalet was off by heart. She even had dreams about it. Then to make things worse, the strange chalet door opened fully and a tall, blonde Blazer girl came out carrying something which she handed to Reg before locking the door. Linking arms the couple sauntered away in the direction of the dining hall all beaming smiles and chuckles, their heads down into the prevailing wind seemingly oblivious to the drizzle. So that was how the land lay. ‗HO-Diddly-Flipping-HO!‘ muttered Gloria darkly stamping out the dog end with the toe of her slipper. She was so put out by what she had just seen that for once her instinctive ‗man alert‘ radar didn‘t notice a young man standing behind a row of dustbins carrying what looked like a notebook and a pair of binoculars. EH In a small town like Coldwynd Sands rumours were soon passed around. One coffee morning at Mrs Chapel‘s was the equal of any town crier. So news of the trouble at the holiday camp headed the list for current gossip. 87


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Murmurs of what Dai the Chemist had said last night to his wife and daughter, ‗A lot of sore throats and sickness amongst the children,‘ sent a chill down the spine. And hadn‘t Evans the plumbers been getting urgent messages for help again? So the chatter went on with a sly nudge here and there. ‗Remember how my Thomas always said it would come to no good with that pair involved, well he‘s right and no mistake.‘ ‗And did you hear about those two from off the telly? Whatever are they here for then?‘ Anxious to hurry home for lunch-time, Bronwen Parry-Jones knew who would get the first news of anything else going on up there, what with her husband being the local Health Inspector. Meanwhile back at the camp that morning not everyone was a happy camper. Marjie sat on the side of her bunk and sighed. Her foot fished for a shoe while her fingers took out all the hair grips she insisted on using every night. She prodded her friend Lil in the bunk above with, ‗How d‘yer feel about our holiday now then?‘ Lil sat up quick and banged her head. ‗What do you mean how do I feel?‘ she exploded, ‗You know I wasn‘t keen on coming to start with, and now we‘ve wasted so much time in that damn kitchen . . . I‘m fed up. I feel like joining the strikers meself.‘ With that she swung her legs 88


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over the edge of the bunk and nearly trod on Marjie‘s hand in her haste to get down. ‗I thought it would be a nice change from Skegness. We‘ve been there so many times,‘ said Marjie indignantly. ‗But I feel the same as you over this kitchen rota business. I could have stayed at home to do washing up.‘ Lil, Marjie‘s life long friend, was rummaging around the cluttered chalet searching amongst their clothes to find her dressing gown. ‗Take mine it‘s on the door.‘ Marjie still smarting from Lil‘s outburst heaved herself up. ‗I‘ll take the chance to get dressed if you‘re off for a wash.‘ Lil headed for the door. ‗Sharn‘t be long,‘ she said. ‗Wait till you see the queue!‘ grinned Marjie. Lil poked her head back round the door. ‗Why, what‘s gone wrong now?‘ ‗You‘ll see! Only two loos working on our side and no sign of a plumber. See you at breakfast.‘ Marjie‘s smile turned to a smirk as Lil banged out. Friend or no friend, Lil could be a bit above herself sometimes. PS Coldwynd holiday camp was living up to its name in every sense. The grim weather matched Vic‘s mood as he slouched against a wooden pillar whose white paint was peeling off with the damp. 89


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He hadn‘t wanted to come. He‘d known all along it would be awful, and there‘d be nothing for him to do. Surely now that he was fifteen he should be allowed to choose his own holidays? But his parents had said they always went to one of these places together as a family, every August. They‘d never been to this particular dump before: he suspected Dad had picked it simply because it was the cheapest. But just when Vic was wondering how he‘d ever get through the day, let alone the week, a familiar voice shouted his name. He turned round and saw his old school friend, Billy. He‘d no idea Billy would be at the camp. ‗We only booked it at the last moment,‘ Billy told him, ‗But we‘re all here now: me, Mum and Dad, and my kid sister Heather.‘ ‗It‘s dead boring here.‘ ‗Yes, BUT ….. I‘ve met this great guy called Gordy, and he says he‘s got all these fabulous records from America. We‘ve been looking for somewhere to play them, and we‘ve found a room with all the equipment, only we can‘t get it to work. Vic, your dad‘s an electrician: you must know how to set these things up. Come along and sort it out for us!‘ Vic followed him up some stairs and into what was obviously an office of some kind. He felt very uneasy. ‗It says, ‗Private, out of bounds 90


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to campers‘ on the door,‘ he pointed out. ‗Yes, but we won‘t be here for long, and we‘re not going to do any damage. There‘s some keys here on the table: we‘ll lock the door so we won‘t be disturbed!‘ Gordy was a fat boy with ginger hair. Heather, Billy‘s sister, looked about twelve, and was clutching a very new-looking guitar. The room held turntables and microphones, and a control panel which looked horribly complicated. Vic had no idea how to operate it, but turned some knobs and pushed a few buttons, and tried to look wise. ‗What‘s the music?‘ he asked, to gain time. ‗American rhythm and blues. You can‘t get them over here. My uncle‘s a steward on a liner. He bought them in New York for me.‘ ‗I like Cliff Richard,‘ said Heather. ‗Typical girl! He‘s useless!‘ sneered Billy. But he had to tolerate Heather, because she could play guitar and sing, which was more than he could. ‗Sssh!‘ whispered Gordy. Footsteps were approaching outside. Someone turned the handle without effect, shook the door a couple of times, and went away. The four of them breathed again. Out in the corridor, Phyllis was puzzled. She‘d only nipped out of her office for a few minutes, and didn‘t remember locking the door. But it seemed she must have done, so where had she put the keys? She‘d have to retrace all her 91


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steps and find them! Alternatively, she could get the master key from Cecil, but she‘d feel such a fool explaining things to him ………… At last, and much to his relief, Vic was able to say, ‗I think I‘ve got the system working. What are you going to play for us?‘ ‗Bo Diddley first! Just listen to this!‘ And in fact the whole camp had to listen to it, as the music blasted out at full volume from every loudspeaker. One particular camper, aroused from his doze, exclaimed, ‗Christ Almighty! If my Vic‘s responsible for this, I‘ll bloody crucify him, so help me!‘ Back in the control room, the four youngsters were blissfully unaware of the havoc they were causing until the door was unlocked and an enraged Cecil appeared. ‗This room is clearly marked as out of bounds! You‘ve been playing around with the public address system, haven‘t you! Now I shall have to tell all your families to leave Coldwynd immediately!‘ The three boys gawped and looked very guilty. Only Heather found the courage to reply. ‗Oh, pleeeease!‘ she said, employing every instinctive female guile to look cute and appealing, ‗We‘re very, very sorry, but we didn‘t mean any harm! It‘s just that we wanted to play some records, but we couldn‘t find anywhere ….. OH!‘ She couldn‘t refrain from a little squeak, because a voice which they all knew so well from 92


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radio and T.V. said, ‗She‘s right, you know, Cec. It‘s what the kids want. There‘s not enough for them to do here at the moment.‘ Ricky Stevens strode into the room, looking as confident as if he already owned the place. ‗Who‘s the one with the Bo Diddley?‘ he asked. ‗Good choice! Didn‘t know you could get him over here yet. Who else have you got? Stevie Wonder? Tina Turner? Not yet, eh? You will! They‘re going to be really big any time now! And which one of you plays this guitar?‘ The boys were too awed to speak, and once again Heather outdid them in boldness and announced, ‗I do!‘ ‗Great! Give us a song then, darling!‘ He smiled and swayed gently as Heather ran through Cliff Richard‘s ‗Travelling Light‘, and then applauded. ‗That‘s really good, sweetheart! Can you play any of my material?‘ Heather hesitated. ‗My brother won‘t let me practice your songs. He says they‘re rubbish!‘ Billy turned bright scarlet, and the two other boys cringed with embarrassment; but Ricky laughed. ‗You know what? He‘s right! They are rubbish! It‘s just that my manager tells me the public want ballads, so that‘s what I‘ve been recording. But I‘ll tell you something else. My manager‘s got it wrong! I‘m going to record American R & B from now. That‘s why it‘s been 93


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great to hear your collection. That‘s what kids want. ‗Now, darling, if you‘ll lend me your guitar for a few minutes, let‘s have some good old rock‘n‘roll!‘ He began to hammer out the chords of ‗Johnny B. Goode‘. Heather joined in the singing enthusiastically, and so did Billy and Gordy, rather more tentatively. But meanwhile Vic had been fiddling with the controls again, so the microphones were full on, and once again the music blared out over the camp. When the song was over, Ricky glanced out of the window. Down below, most of the camp‘s teenagers were clustered excitedly round a loudspeaker. ‗Like I said, Cec‘, said Ricky. ‗You‘ve needed more for the kids here; that‘s been the problem. But I reckon this place has got real potential. I‘ll tell Pootlin that.‘ He scribbled autographs for them all on Phyllis‘s notepaper (the one for Heather reading, ‗For a star of the future. With love from Ricky‘) and then said ‗Thanks for getting me to meet these kids, Cec; it‘s been great.‘ Cecil normally despised pop music, and pop musicians even more; and this particular specimen, with his easy bonhomie and 94


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shaky mid-Atlantic accent, hardly improved the image of the breed. Furthermore, he really didn‘t like being addressed as Cec by people who didn‘t know him: he thought it led to unpleasant jokes (‗Cec, as in pit!‘ a sergeant had said to him, on his callup for national service). But Pootlin was the man who did the deals, and clearly a good word to him from a potential purchaser would certainly be useful for his own career. ‗Thank you very much, Ricky,‘ he said, ‗and thank you too, children! I‘ll tell your parents how helpful you‗ve been!‘

Tuesday Morning

AP

As she‘d expected the lads were lounging on the grass outside the chalet of Ricky Stevens. His curtains were still closed, but at any minute he might poke out his head and request room service. So the Wannabes waited. ‗Morning lads,‘ sang Phyllis. ‗Ho Diddly Ho.‘ ‗Ho,‘ replied one of them. They were good natured boys and well brought up really, but they knew they were in the middle of the swinging sixties. ‗Got a bit of advice for you,‘ said Phyllis. ‗Uhuh?‘ 95


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‗The smoking. It‘s a daft place. Anyone can see.‘ ‗What smoking?‘ ‗You‘d be OK further down. By that ridge that goes out to the sea. And bury the ends deep. The tide will wash them up otherwise and the beach patrol will find them.‘ And she went off merrily on her way to execute plan number two. This concerned Bert and Beryl Oldcastle. A faint alarm had rung in the depths of her mind the minute she saw them getting out of that flashy car. She‘d definitely seen them somewhere else. But for once Phyllis‘s questioning mind had been stilled, or at least it had been too busy with questions about how to cope with sullen staff, screaming kids and petulant punters. And this bloody strike. Now it couldn‘t care less, had bent its efforts to the mystery of Mr and Mrs Oldcastle, and had solved it. They were Bookies. Mr Oldcastle had run the shop and Mrs Oldcastle had been his runner. She‘d taken bets for Phyllis‘s granddad every Tuesday night. And brought his winnings back. Granddad was good, practically lived off the horses, in fact Mr and Mrs Oldcastle only took his money because he brought them so 96


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many customers. They were absolutely loaded. They‘d invested wisely, moved out of the shabby mining village to the leafy heights of Plas Claerwn, and were considered very respectable nowadays. Cheesed off when their precious Susan decided to come and work for the camp, but she had her own reasons, as Phyllis well knew. Sue was a good kid, a laugh, and so were her parents. Phyllis would be happy to do them a favour.

Tuesday Evening

AR

What a dump! Ricky looked around the room they had given him to change in. By no stretch of the imagination could this glorified broom cupboard be called a dressing room. Distempered brick walls were crumbling. He spent a few minutes picking out shapes in the algae creeping up from the bottom. ‗That looks like a giraffe and there‘s a range of mountains with Elvis gyrating on the top.‘ Above the patch of mould the dirtiest sink he had ever seen, hung precariously by its last remaining bracket - and was he supposed to be able to see in that mirror! There were even more characters formed in the crumbling silvering than on the walls. 97


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Just get on with it, he told himself, get changed into your stage clothes and remember if this was the Palladium ol‘ Pootlin wouldn‘t be desperate to get rid of it. The thought that with a bit of luck by this time next year this dump would be transformed into his own, Peace and Meditation Centre raking in the money, put a smile on his face and, as he shivered after pulling on his leather trousers and jacket, he rubbed vigorously at the tarnished glass to try and clear enough space to at least see his face. After holding his head down and running his fingers through his mop of hair before raising it for a last vigorous shake he was then satisfied that his grooming was complete and, giving the curly top one more shake, picked up his guitar and opened the door. When he reached the back stage he could see Jimmy, his best friend, standing by the closed curtain peeping out at the gathering audience. Creeping up behind the still figure Ricky whispered, ‗Any likely looking birds in tonight?‘ ‗Jesus, Ricky you nearly had me through the curtain. Yeah, I can see that Sandy chick you took back to your room last night. She‘s here with that tasty mate of hers. What‘s her name again?‘ Without waiting for an answer he continued, ‗Crumbs you‘ll never believe it mate but tonight they‘re not wearing the same as each other. Thought they must be in some sort of uniform the way they always dress alike. Won98


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der why birds dress the same as each other?‘ Out in the Pootlin ballroom Suzy and Sandy were getting excited. They had taken great care in deciding which outfit they would wear tonight. It was always the same ritual. One would decide that she fancied the black mini with white geometric shapes, then the other would say she fancied wearing blue ski pants with their new orange blouses. After much discussion on the merits of both outfits they usually settled on what to wear, but tonight was an exception. Sandy was insistent that she would again be going backstage with Ricky even though his passing remark to her when she had left his room had been a casual, ‗See ya,‘ and she needed the confidence her new Mary Quant red mini dress with the black and white dogtooth check bodice would give her. Suzy knew her friend was not really as sure as she was making out, and that the invitation backstage was by no means certain. They had both read the accounts of pop stars having a different girl every night but like all the others who flocked after their heroes, they believed they were different. They could tame the untameable! Nervously looking around the room Sandy eyed up the competition. Secretly wishing she had not insisted they wore different clothes, dressing alike gave the girls a sense of security and belonging, and she knew she had upset her 99


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friend acting as if she was on a date with Ricky and, in an attempt to get back into her good books, whispered into her friend‘s ear, ‗Look at those two Suz, in the leather minis. They were here last night standing right up the front letting Ricky get an eyeful of what they‘d had for their tea! Well if that‘s what he fancies he‘s welcome. Let‘s have a look at the talent in tonight.‘ With that the two girls linked arms and scanned the room taking in all the boys in their blue denim jeans and black tee-shirts.

Wednesday

GL

A sleek Humber Snipe moved effortlessly north up the A5 en-route to Coldwynd Sands. Behind tinted glass windows the two men were unseen. Dan Forthright and Pete Ferret had a mission to sort rumours from fact, about goings on at the former Coldwynd Camp. They would report their findings to the Minister of Defence, and the Home Secretary, since a muster of senior officials had taken place on Tuesday. Unbeknownst to anyone at the camp, this mission was set up in the face of leaked snippets of news and rumours, potentially embarrassing events, not in the national interest. 100


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Dan and Pete briefly discussed the melange of happenings at the campsite in North Wales. Then Pete said, ‗Crikey Dan it‘s twenty years since the war.‘ ‗Yes,‘ Dan replied, ‗that old military site must be rather derelict by now, with old Nissen huts and no proper facilities, unfit for human use I‘d say. Did you find out the owner‘s name.‘ ‗Sure I did Dan, and his sidekick. The camp was sold off in 1950, five years after peace broke out, also there‘s a lively reporter at the local rag, who‘s given me some info about the place.‘ ‗Okay Pete we go in covertly, just like in the old days. We do this in casual wear, and just walk in, we don‘t need any of their staff to cop our identity, not before we take a look around. Remember, Ho-Diddly-Ho is their call sign.‘ ‗There are two ways we can do this,‘ said Pete, ‗by mixing with the campers and having some fun, or by taking a forthright approach with the owner,‘ he smiled, ‗Mr Forthright.‘ ‗Mixing with the campers is your ticket Pete, you being the ferret,‘ he smiled back. They agreed their tactics, to both mix in initially, examine various aspects, and join up to tackle Harry Pootlin and his sidekick. In that way they would not be conned. Pete was able to befriend Polly Entwhistle. He was smartly persuasive to encourage her to let him view her chalet. ‗Horrible‘, was his summing up. But, she also told him about the strike. 101


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Meanwhile, Dan was being teased by Phyllis at another part of the camp. She was forthcoming with information of the visit by a Mr Morgan, from the nuclear power industry. She also shared her worries about a hazardous area of old mine workings. ‗Does the owner of this site not acquaint staff with these matters?‘ Dan asked her. ‗No chance, he‘s a bull tempered old has -been and a flinty old bugger who keeps everything to himself.‘ Then the episode with the local public health visit came out, Oh! My big mouth, Phyllis thought. ‗Well m‘dear, I need to see some relatives who are on holiday here. Must go, perhaps we‘ll meet again later.‘ ‗What did you say your name is … err Dan?‘ ‗Yes it‘s Dan, as you are Phyllis, no surnames remember?‘ He left to find Pete Ferret. Knock! Knock! ‗Who ever that is, damn well come in, if you must,‘ Harry Pootlin said, as he chewed a cheroot. The door opened and Dan immediately stepped in, with Pete. They showed their identity cards to Harry. ‗My name is Dan… Dan Forthright, I am here with my partner, Pete Ferret. We‘ve been sent on a mission from the highest authority, to investigate this campsite with regard to rumours which have reached the authorities Mr Pootlin, about your future disposal plans for this business. If 102


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the rumours are in fact true Sir, what you plan cannot be in the best national interests, in short, your ideas are unacceptable.‘ Harry did not answer, he sat white-faced, but pressed a small desk button. Dan went on, ‗We have investigated these rumours. As you and I know, this camp has not been maintained to public health standards, your staff are on strike, and you have opened your door to Dennis Morgan, a nuclear site planner, and your manager…‘ Just then the door opened and Cecil appeared. ‗Ah Mr Thoroughgood, the very man himself,‘ but Cecil looked at Dan, and shot out the door again. ‗I was his officer-in-charge, during his national service, I know the scoundrel well.‘ Harry was perspiring now. ‗We will report our findings to several Ministers. A request by the MoD, for a formal inquiry, is being tabled as I speak.‘ Dan moved close to Harry, inviting a handshake and found only a sweaty palm. ‗A word before we leave Mr Pootlin, I suggest you do nothing, but think carefully about your position. You will receive communications about this in due course.‘ Dan and Pete left the campsite as they came, on foot. Before leaving the area they visited the local Coldwynd Council Planning Office, introduced themselves and requested any planning applications for Coldwynd Sands campsite be held for prior permission 103


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to be given by the ministry. The Humber Snipe, a vehicle only used by the most senior members in the MoD, gently rolled along the coast road, turned south on to the A5 and cruised away into the twilight of Wednesday evening. ‗Dan, I‘m glad you mentioned to that Harry guy about his open door stance with Dennis Morgan. The boys at the Ministry of Defence were hopping mad when they got news of the nuclear interest in that site.‘ ‗Thanks Pete, I‘m glad you‘re glad, it was just a forthright thing to do.‘ Wednesday CMH The Coldwynd Sands holiday campers found that Wednesday had dawned without a cloud in the sky. This promised a busy day full of outdoor activities, if they could be organised; fun and jollity were on the cards. It was different for the ‗Blazers‘. They looked forward to another day of picketing and all the excitement of watching paint dry. ‗We‘ve got to put some pressure on Pootlin,‘ was the theme of their morning‘s meeting. Because of the involvement of Susan‘s parents the sharp side of a number of tongues had already been used, so Susan and Reg said little 104


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Nevertheless, it was Reg who came up with the next plot. ‗He likes his comforts does our Harry,‘ he told the meeting. ‗You can bet on it that if we turn off his water and power he‘ll be out of that office damned quick. When he‘s out in the open, then we can mob him a bit.‘ After some dissent, it was agreed to give it try. The mid morning arrival of a van bearing the title ‗Public Health Authority‘ brought Cecil Thoroughgood to the gate demanding to know what they wanted. He was informed, by an irascible public health officer, ‗I have a legal right to go where I want with regards to public health matters, and I intend to do just that!‘ He visibly backed down from a confrontation when he was told, ‗You may very well think you can, but until you prove you‘re just who you say you are, then you don‘t get any further. If I get any more trouble from you ―Sir‖, I‘ll put my police auxiliary hat on and run you in on a charge of disturbing the peace just as fast as I would any other troublemaker. Got it!‘ Producing an official document the man read out, ‗Information has been received that your catering staff are of an insufficiently high standard and that the hygiene of your toilet blocks is suspect. We intend to carry out an inspection of your catering and personal hygiene facilities and take several samples for laboratory analysis. Should these prove not to be of an adequate standard we shall take steps requiring 105


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you to rectify the situation or face immediate closure. In addition, the courts may order an additional fine of up to £500 per incident. We trust that this will not prove necessary Mr Thoroughgood.‘ Cecil was taken aback, but thought, Bollocks to them. We‘re closing soon, and selling out anyway, this lot are a bloody irrelevance, he waved his hands about and said, ‗Look all you want to. You‘ll find that you‘re wasting your time here.‘ The empty kitchen gleamed, not merely clean but polished to high shine. The crockery shone, all the chipped items had been discarded, the floors sparkled and smelled of disinfectant. All the swill bins were clean and marked and the rubbish bins empty. There was a problem at the toilets in ‗G‘ block that was being cleared as the inspectors arrived. Several men, rather well dressed for jobbing plumbers, had a selection of tools on the ground and were busy with drain rods. Samples were taken but there was nothing the inspector could say as a problem was not being dealt with. There was nobody about in the bar but several crates of dirty glasses stood beside the glass washer ready for reloading when the current wash cycle ended. By this time, the fussy little man was livid. He‘d detested Thoroughgood following him about and had found nothing. Eventually he gave up 106


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and said, ‗We may as well leave now, obviously we‘ve been misinformed.‘ Watching the van drive off in a cloud of exhaust fumes, Cecil scratched his chin. Just who was behind all this and why and what was Phyllis up to? Fred the Blazer boy with the Beatle haircut wandered passed carrying a soggy placard saying the legend, ‗Up The Workers‘. Cecil nodded as Fred passed whistling . . . It was right up the workers as far as Pootlin was concerned. . . Perhaps it was time to move on to pastures new. Perhaps the old boys network could come in handy . . Perhaps he should make a few calls. Wednesday Afternoon Having failed to get Pootlin out of his office, and found out that his electricity and water supply couldn‘t be cut off, Sue and Reg had taken themselves away for a little private conversation. A conversation that was proving to be more enjoyably tactile than verbal, when there came a knock on the chalet door. ‗Who is it?‘ asked Sue. ‗It‘s me darling,‘ came her mother‘s voice, ‗I want to have a chat with you and Reg about some things I‘ve found out. I‘ll meet you in the canteen when you‘ve had time to get your clothes on. Again!‘ 107


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There was no mistaking her meaning. Covered in confusion, but not much else, they grabbed their clothes from the floor and fell about laughing and giggling. ‗Well this is another fine mess you‘ve got me into Stanley,‘ said Reg doing his best Oliver and Hardy impression. ‗Caught in flagrante delecto and by your mother! You‘ll just have to make an honest man of me now, won‘t you?‘ ‗Yes, ohh yes, yes,‘ was Susan‘s ecstatic reply, ‗I think I can fit you in on Monday next week. Will that be acceptable darling?‘ Then she threw herself at him and knocked him back onto the bed they‘d just vacated, smothering him with kisses. Getting dressed and out of the door took quite some time. ‗What is it Mum?‘ asked a glowing Sue when, eventually, they met. She then formally introduced Reg as her fiancé, not much to her mother‘s surprise. Beryl hugged and kissed Reg and Sue and then got down to business. ‗You know that your Dad and I have been trying to find out what‘s going on around here don‘t you? Pootlin‘s trying to sell the camp. That we know for sure. There are two main bidders and he‘s trying to push the price up playing one against the other. That‘s what anybody would do in the circumstances. What Pootlin doesn‘t know is that there may be two more folks waiting for him to fail so they can offer a far lower price.‘ She waited for their comment which was a long time 108


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coming, and then it was from Reg. ‗I can see Pootlin wanting top whack for the dump, but who are the bidders? I mean a bloody great storm at high spring tide would wash to place away; you‘ve only to look at the topography of the land to see that!‘ Beryl told them of her discoveries. Reg chuckled at first, then he started to laugh out loud until he was red in the face and beating his thighs with his fists, ‗Ohh bloody hell,‘ he said when he‘d calmed down, ‗if that don‘t beat it all. That manky pop singer! He‘s a non-starter. He‘s up to his neck in debt. It stands to reason; if he wasn‘t he‘d never come to play a run down dump like this! What‘s your plot then?‘ Beryl wasn‘t a hundred percent sure, but told them anyway. Much Later That Wednesday Evening With their ‗Rhubarb and Custard‘ working clothes consigned to the washing basket, Susan and Reg sat, with Beryl and Bert, at a table in a corner of the bar celebrating the engagement of Sue and Reg and discussing the future of the pair. ‗When you‘re married, you‘ll need…‘ began Beryl only to be hushed by the other three. Susan firmly squashed any major wedding plans. 109


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‗We‘re getting married next week! Reg has got us a special license, and it‘s all set. I don‘t want a big wedding and a lot of fuss. You know what happened when our Esme had that big do? There were more fights that day than I could count. Well that is not happening to me! I‘ll invite the girls from here, and you can get the family around but nothing else. Reg can do the same for his family.‘ ‗And just who d‘you think‘s going to pay for all this junketing may I ask? You know that some of them can‘t afford to come away for week-end breaks,‘ the objection came from Bert. ‗Ohh that‘s no problem, I‘ll use some of Granddad‘s money. Either they can stay here in the camp, or I‘ll get them put up at a hotel somewhere. It‘s only family you need to bother about.‘ ‗That‘ll cost a fair bit. Ten pounds a day for hotels my lady. Me, being your Dad, I‘m supposed to pay for all this stuff. I draw the line at hotels. B & B for two nights should do.‘ ‗Dad! You‘re a real old skinflint! I‘ve said I‘ll pay for the family. You pay for the rest! OK?‘ Reg thought that maybe he should get a word in. ‗Well, if it‘s money I‘ve got a couple of hundred quid in the Post Office we could use.‘ He was floored when Bert explained, ‗Susan has more than enough. My Dad left her a packet in his will. With interest it‘s about thirty seven and a half by now.‘ He saw a look of incompre110


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hension on Reg‘s face, ‗Thirty seven thousand five hundred. I‘ll bet she hasn‘t told you but your Susan is a well off young lady.‘ As the look changed to one of amazement Bert added, ‗I know she doesn‘t spend it; something to do with, ―It isn‘t hers as she hasn‘t earned it,‖ and she only spends what she earns. Don‘t ask! We‘re just men and it‘s far too deep for us to follow.‘ A shocked Reg was busy getting his mouth working, ‗I hope you don‘t think I‘m trying to marry Susan for her money,‘ he began only to be firmly told, “NOT TO BE SILLY,” by both Susan and Beryl, and to be enlightened by Bert. ‗Forget that one! You couldn‘t anyway Reg. That cash is tied up tighter than a duck‘s backside, and that‘s watertight. There are ways for Susan to get at it, her wedding is one, but it would need a high priced lawyer to get at any more.‘ Thursday Morning

SMS

Gloria Allerdyce pushed a slice of pork sausage round her plate and glowered menacingly across the cafeteria to where a group of Blazers were huddled deep in conversation. She could just make out the top of Reg Robinson‘s head and the back of that Susan hussy. She‘d know that little madam any where, she was the one with legs up to her armpits and far too much to say for herself for a girl of her age. 111


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What they were all squealing about was anybody‘s business. Far too much noise at breakfast time on a wet Thursday. Nobody should be that happy on a wet Thursday especially when the highlight of the week – the Glamorous Granny Competition - might be cancelled due to strike action or so the poster she‘d just read on the door had said. Gloria snorted — what a let down. That leopard skin mini skirt and the white stiletto boots, she‘d bought specially off that second time around stall in Oldham market, would be wasted. ‗I said, I said our Vera, what that lot are caterwauling about is anybody‘s business,‘ Gloria mouthed at her long suffering cousin Vera who was having trouble with the batteries of a new fangled hearing aid which had a long curly lead poking out of the top of her blouse like forgotten spaghetti. Vera didn‘t hear the moaning, she was very good at not hearing Gloria‘s moaning even when the device was switched on. ‗Eee ain‘t love grand,‘ replied Vera spearing a slice of black pudding with the end of her fork. ‗What d‘you mean our Vera? Who‘s in love?‘ Something cold and hard wrapped itself around Gloria‘s heart and squeezed, all of a sudden she lost all her appetite even the thick slice of fried bread lost its appeal. ‗Them pair!‘ grinned cousin Vera, waving a forkful of black pudding in the direction of the Blazers. ‗Haven‘t you heard? I thought you‘d 112


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know, what with your nose for gossip?‘ ‗Heard what?‘ Gloria‘s knife clattered on to the plate sending up a splatter of tommy-k and bacon dip, she knew what Vera was about to say. She could tell. All that shrieking going on, all that back slapping. Reg standing there bold and brass with his arm round that . . . that woman. ‗They‘re engaged. Reg and her . . . that tall blonde one . . . whatshername?‘ answered Vera thoughtfully through a mouthful of runny egg which was doing its best to escape down her chin. ‗Oh I could think of a good one for that one,‘ whispered Gloria reaching in her beach-bag for a ciggy. ‗There‘s words for her sort in Oldham!‘ ‗Morning Ladies . . .Ho-Diddly-Ho,‘ said an unfamiliar voice as a young man carrying a breakfast tray slid onto the end of their table. Hiding her ciggy under the table, Gloria‘s face turned its frown up side down as her dentures beamed a tommy-k grin at the newcomer. ‗And what are you two lovely ‗young‘ ladies up to this morning?‘ asked the reporter from the News of the Times. ‗Doing anything exciting?‘ he added never taking his eyes away from the couple at the next table where Phyllis Abercrombie-Browne and Dennis Morgan were sharing a pot of tea while engaged deep in the sort of secret whispered conversation which requires the sharing of the same breath. Emm . . . this reeks of conspiracy, he thought. 113


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He wasn‘t daft, he knew a juicy conspiracy when he saw one, after all they didn‘t call him ‗Scoop‘ for nothing. As Gloria eased a generous length of thigh in his direction under the table and Vera‘s chin took on another glossy tricky of bacon dip, the reporter‘s fixed grin solidified to stone. The oldbirds he had to cosy up to just to get a story. Just then the door flung open and Harry Pootlin marched in. His face was a mask of fury as he ripped up the postponement poster. ‗Take no notice of this rubbish. Of course there‘ll be a Glamorous Granny Competition on Friday Night and we‘ll be choosing the Holiday Princess same as always or my name‘s not Harry Pootlin.‘ Gloria stood up and shouted, ‗Hooray!‘ So did Vera, who managed to knock over her cup of tea in the excitement. Christopher Cross caught Phyllis‘s eye and smiled thinly as he mopped at his wetted lap with a Ho-Diddly-Ho serviette. Thursday Breakfast Time

EH

Lil and Marjie were in their chalet after finishing their breakfast, ‗That‘s the first morning we‘ve not been on washing –up rota, I‘m fed up with it all. I‘m glad to be packing me things before someone else gives me orders. That Beryl woman putting herself in charge over everybody got on my nerves,‘ moaned Lil as she subsided into the armchair. 114


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Marjie was used to hearing Lil bleating on about everything, she knew by next week it would all be forgotten when Lil had her job, or the neighbour‘s cat, to set her off.‘ ‗Shall we go out on a bus ride for a change this morning?‘ suggested Marjie, ‗I fancy a decent fish-and–chip lunch, they say there‘s a shop in the centre of town,‘ trying to give Lil a bit of encouragement. But Lil only sighed and looked at her feet, ‗I‘m not keen,‘ she said. ‗I can‘t walk very far in these new shoes,‘ and she stretched out her legs and sighed again. ‗For goodness sake Lil, keep your sandals on, we won‘t be away that long, I want to see the Children‘s Competitions this afternoon to see who won the prizes.‘ Lil wasn‘t going to be sidetracked. ‗I don‘t fancy that either, it‘ll be screaming and shouting. There‘s always some spoiled brat crying and carrying on with tantrums. What they need‘s a good hiding not prizes.‘ Trying to change the subject Marjie looked up with a smile, ‗Did you see the goings-on at the top table this morning? It looks like two of the Blazers are getting engaged. It‘s a funny time to be celebrating isn‘t it?‘ Marjie knew Lil loved a bit of gossip. Lil rose to the bait. ‗I guessed something was going on. You remember, when we caught them behind the chalet the other night. I suppose they‘d just finished their rounds of the baby-patrol.‘ 115


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Marjie was pulling on her coat, but Lil still sat there, ‗He‘s not much of a catch is he? Young girls like her don‘t know their own minds, he must have heard the rumour about her dad being a Bookie.‘ ‗Oh well, come on if you‘re coming, I‘ll get an umbrella. It‘s sure to rain again.‘ Reluctantly, Lil got up and fetched her Macintosh. The weather had been very poor all week and now she might have to get her new perm all wet again. She‘d far rather stay in the warm with her magazine and that big box of chocolates she‘d been saving. Marjie‘s wild sense of adventure could be such a nuisance sometimes. Thursday Mid-Morning

CMH

The nippers were busy with paints and crayons, the lads in the 7 to 11s group had games of football going, while the girls sat and giggled at them. The teenagers had taken themselves off somewhere. Probably snogging was in the thoughts of most of the adults who didn‘t have sons or daughters amongst them. Then came the earth tremor. Not a big one, not a bomb blast, but a ripple and a rumble in the ground big enough to be felt throughout the camp. A few of the tiniest in the nursery started to cry, but were soon distracted; whilst the footballers ignored it, until part of the pitch 116


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disappeared into a rapidly lengthening and widening hole. Looking far too innocent for their own good, the gang of teenagers appeared from round the corner of a building and inspected the hole. ‗Flipping mining subsidence, the underground roadway‘s caved in,‘ said the boy known as Gordy. ‗Seen them back home. Mostly they happens wi‘out anybody knowing, ‗cause that‘s the way it is when th‘ old supports go.‘ He seemed to be talking as much to convince himself as anybody else. ‗Come on you lot let‘s get a drink I‘m parched.‘ His mum knew him better than he thought she did. ‗Come ‘ere you! What you bin up to ehh? What you bin adoin‘? Out with it you little perisher.‘ Little perisher seemed to be a misstatement as he was bigger and heavier than his mother, but she took hold of him by one ear and gave a hard clout around the other anyway. It took a while but she did extract the truth, or at least part of it, from him. On the Monday, the teens had sneaked off for a crafty smoke in a depression behind some huts at the edge of the camp. In the words of one of the girls, ‗It ponged a bit around there.‘ Then they‘d found that some holes in the ground flared up for a few seconds when they‘d flicked a fag end into them. Amusing themselves with this they‘d become adventurous, started 117


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little fires, and thrown small chunks of burning wood into them. This was a bit of fun for some days then, just a few minutes ago, Gordy had found a big hole under a large chunk of concrete and started it flaring up. After a couple of minutes it went out, a few seconds later there came a sheet of flame and a muffled pop from the hole closely followed by the earth tremor. ‗Bloody hell, they‘ve lit the firedamp, probably a big pocket of it, and that‘s caused a cave in down some of the old mine tunnels,‘ was the pronouncement of an ex-miner amongst the campers. ‗It‘ll be a while before the whole thing settles; maybe a month or two, and then it should be OK.‘ Consternation, confusion, and elation were exhibited. Phyllis and Dennis knew that this was catastrophic to Pootlin‘s chances of selling the site to the Nuclear people. Dennis, closely followed by an elated Phyllis, went off to give the bad news to Harry Pootlin, and for Dennis to phone his office. Only Ricky Stevens remained as a known bidder and, it was widely rumoured, he may have some problem raising the funds. However, the incident had drastically reduced the price that could be asked for the campsite. The Oldcastles and Reg were delighted as this increased the chances of their plan coming to fruition. Beryl did a little war dance in celebration. 118


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Friday Morning

EH

When Phyllis first woke she lay in a state of euphoria until she realised the time. Last night with Dennis had been hectic and her hand shook as she put on her mascara and blusher, it was needed to cover up the traces of last night. Still, the kids wouldn‘t notice when she took them for games. She finished her make-up and rushed to leave the chalet. She was locking the door when suddenly a car shot round the corner from the main gate and came to a screeching stop by Harry Pootlin‘s office, sending a spray of muddy water just short of her legs. Phyllis groaned, she knew who this was, Margo Pootlin and her shadow, Emerald, Pootlin‘s daughter had turned up out of the blue. It was firmly believed by the camp staff that these two were safely tucked away in the hotel Costa Lot in sunny Spain. Oh my God thought Phyllis, what now? Here come more fireworks. Were their plans in jeopardy at this late stage by the sudden arrival of Harry‘s nearest and dearest? And who was this scurrying down the steps to meet the pair of them? None other than the sly Cecil.

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Sue was in reception checking the day‘s rota so she saw the whole thing unfold as Margo and Emerald swanned in in a tearing hurry pushing Cecil out of the way with a, ‗Not now sunshine, you‘ve done your part, now it‘s my turn. Where is he? Where‘s ‘arry? I bet he‘s hiding in the toilet if he heard me coming.‘ Sue didn‘t wait to hear any more, she dashed off to tell her mum and dad of the arrival. It looked like crunch time for Pootlin. Over this mayhem came the tannoy, ‗Will Aunty Phyllis go to start the toddlers‘ games. Sharon and Tracey are helping today. Good Luck and Ho-Diddly-Ho!‘ Dennis opened his chalet door to a breathless Phyllis and let out a waft of aftershave, ‗Back so soon light of my life?‘ he said with a knowing grin. ‗Don‘t mess about Dennis, this is serious,‘ quickly he closed the door on prying eyes. Phyllis burst out with, ‗Margo Pootlin‘s here. It looks like trouble. Cecil‘s involved we must do something.‘ ‗Hold on a minute . . . We need more facts. Was anyone else there?‘ ‗Yes, young Sue, as they pushed in past Cecil, but she‘s scooted off, looking for Bert or Reg I expect.‘ Again the agitated tannoy cut in, ‗Is Aunty Phyllis on her way to the play-room? The kiddywinkys are getting restless . . . And wet . . . 120


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Don‘t let them down Aunty Phyllis. Over and out.‘ ‗Come on Phyllis,‘ said Dennis after they had a few words about Pootlin, ‗I can do better than wet kisses from kids, come on just a quick one to keep me going. I‘ve got that phone call to make to you-know-who, and I shall be free of the doglead for good.‘ A few minutes later Phyllis turned in the direction of the play-room with a spring in her step trying to get her mind into focus. She always felt zingy after a clinch with Dennis, even the gentle drizzle couldn‘t damper her spirits. With head held high and a determined step she soon reached the long line of soaked mums and toddlers waiting outside. Strangely, her cheery ‗Ho-Diddly-Ho!‘ didn‘t attract a favourable response from the grumpy mums. Phyllis was glad when she could sneak out for a crafty cigarette; just as she rounded the corner of the play-room she was in time to see Cecil Thoroughgood running towards his chalet. Cecil running. She‘d never seen Cecil break sweat in all the time he‘d been Manager. As she followed in his wake she noticed a khaki coloured land-rover pull on to the car-park in front of reception. Three military types got out. Phyllis was sure she‘d seen one of the hunks before somewhere. Phyllis never forgot a man‘s face. Photographic memory for beefcake had our Phyllis. Was their arrival anything to do with 121


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Cecil‘s newly acquired sprinting record attempt she wondered. She‘d better find out. GL ‗What are you up to Cecil,‘ inquired Phyllis. ‗Just checking that we have all the necessary kit required for this bash,‘ he replied stuffing things into a bulging suitcase. ‗Are you all ready for the big night then?‘ Just then there was a knock on the chalet door. ‗Who is it?‘ Phyllis asked as she turned the door handle to see the visitor. ‗My name is Pete Ferret, I‘m here to see the Camp Manager,‘ the newcomer stepped into the office accompanied by two seriously strong men, as Phyllis stepped to one side. ‗Ah! Mr Cecil Thoroughgood I am here with my colleagues to effect your arrest, on charges relating to the disappearance of stores from this site, when the property of His Majesty‘s government, while you were in charge of Care and Maintenance of the site before the estate‘s sale, some years ago.‘ ‗What……‘ Cecil could not get the words out. ‗I am a Military Police officer,‘ stated Pete. ‗If you come quietly it will be to your credit.‘ The now forlorn figure of Cecil Thoroughgood was cuffed and removed from the office. ‗My goodness‘ uttered Phyllis. 122


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‗We are just doing our job,‘ Capt Peter Ferret said before he left leaving Phyllis open mouthed. ‗Whatever next?‘ she whispered. Friday

CMH

A brief visit by two Military Policemen, and a detective from Scotland Yard, was hardly a raid. However, headlines trumpeting, „Holiday Camp Armed Raid‟ had the campers wondering what they‘d missed. Cecil Thoroughgood left the camp with the Redcaps, charged with theft, and embezzlement of military funds, and Ricky Stevens went to ‗Assist the Police in their Enquiries‘. Polly and Phyllis had been in the office at the time and word spread rapidly on that Friday morning. Eleven fifteen saw Phyllis detailing her plans to Bert, Beryl, Susan, Reg, and Dennis on the deserted pool surround. ‗There shouldn‘t be any problem with planning permission. We should be open by late spring,‘ she concluded. ‗That will fit in with our plans,‘ said Beryl. ‗If my accountant gives it the okay then we‘re up for it. But what do you want out of it? You and Dennis must want something!‘ The answer came from a changed Dennis. ‗You give us a free hand here for the next five years.‘ He paused to let that bombshell sink in. 123


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‗Once Ivy‘s divorced me, I‘m going to marry Phyllis, and we‘re going to start a family here. I know we can run this thing at a hefty profit. Once the builders have finished all it needs is some work to make it go.‘ He looked at Phyllis and continued, ‗That do you love?‘ A smiling Phyllis grabbed his arm and whispered to him, ‗We may not have started a family last night, but, we‘ll have some fun starting one soon.‘ Dennis gave her a big smile and a hug. Just then, Gordy, the teenager who‘d proven the mining subsidence, came along. ‗You should have seen them two going at it, round the back of the beach hut,‘ he said. ‗Gordon and that the reporter, Chris Cross. Knocking spots off each other they was, best scrap I‘ve seen and yelling fit ter bust. Blood all over the place.‘ He shook a clanking bag. ‗This is what they was fighting over. It looks like the bits from the pool thingy. Now we can get the pool filled again.‘ A few questions got the rest of the story. He‘d seen Gordon and Chris together and had followed them to see the ironwork being moved and the fight starting. ‗That reporter bloke hit Gordon when he showed him the bits he‘d taken off the swing boats. Said he wasn‘t working with an attempted murderer and he was going to get him sacked.‘ Gordy was sent to find Archie Greatholder, to ask him if he could work his magic; and soon the pool was being filled with 124


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campers enjoying the water. Bert and Beryl got hold of Pootlin and brokered a deal for the site. By 1.30pm a deal was done, and a local lawyer was putting it into legal form. True Harry did not get his £150,000 but, as he said later, ‗Well, 102 ain‘t too bad is it? After all the hassle I‘ve had here I‘m glad be out of it.‘ When the staff heard of it, they went back to work as if nothing had happened. Friday evening was the contest finals evening, Knobbly Knees, Glamorous Gran, Dancing, Look-a -like, Fancy Dress, Holiday Princess and a host of other daft competitions were held. Just before the evening meal, there was a staff meeting in the bar. Pootlin stood up and said, ‗As from mid-day tomorrow Coldwynd Sands has new owners; Bert and Beryl Oldcastle. Your back wages will be paid up by them. If you have any problems after that just see them!‘ Beryl jumped up saying this was an interim arrangement. ‗Susan and Reg are getting the camp as a wedding present. This is the last season of Coldwyn Sands as it is; it‘s going to be changed.‘ Polly asked the question on everybody‘s lips, ‗Will there be jobs for us next year?‘ Phyllis answered. ‗Although Susan and Reg will own the camp; Dennis and myself will run it. We‘re going to take this place up-market. Next year, there‘ll be loads of jobs; right now I don‘t 125


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know how many. But enough for you lot anyway!‘ ‗Get a wriggle on,‘ shouted Reg. ‗Holiday Princess in half an hour, and somebody‘s got to judge the prizes. How about you and Harry doing the honours together eh Bert?‘ Saturday Night – Main Ballroom

SMS

‗Welcome, welcome lads and lasses. HO-DiddlyHO,‘ bellowed Harry Pootlin into the hand mike. ‗Ho-diddly-ho,‘ replied a handful of punters half heartedly. ‗You can do better than that. Come on I can‘t hear you,‘ boomed Harry his bloated cheeks turning scarlet under the stage lighting. ‗HO-DIDDLY-HO,‘ shouted a few more campers just to shut him up. ‗That‘s better. Now who‘s had a . . .?‘ he was going to say ‗lovely time at Pootlins‘ just as he usually did to round off the holiday week, but on second thought he said, ‗Who‘s ready for the highlight of the week choosing the Holiday Princess and the Glamorous Granny?‘ ‗We are!‘ shouted the voices of four grannies in the front row. ‗How‘do Gloria . . . back again are you?‘ asked Harry. ‗Might have guessed.‘ ‗I‘m ready for you Harry,‘ said a young woman with a beehive hairdo wearing a revealing frock, who had stood up from a table close to the 126


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bar where she‘d been sitting on her own. ‗Candice! What a surprise . . . Sit down love . . . I‘ll talk to you later . . .‘ spluttered Harry moping his brow. He‘d be having a few words with whoever had let her into the camp. Thank the lord Margo had got a headache or he‘d never have heard the last of it. The last time Margo clapped eyes on ‗Chalet Six Candy‘ she‘d threatened to do things to his undercarriage which didn‘t bear thinking about. ‗Without further ado, I call up on our very own Reggie Robinson to start the proceedings.‘ With that Pootlin made to scurry off the stage. ‗Not so fast Harry,‘ said Reg taking the sweaty mike from his outstretched hand. ‗There are one or two announcements to make first.‘ ‗Announcements!‘ spluttered Pootlin his beady eyes on stilts. ‗Ladies and gents let‘s have a big hand for Harry Pootlin, who today has sold his stake in Pootlin‘s to Mrs and Mrs Bert Oldcastle.‘ ‗Well!‘ snapped Candice who grabbed at her bag and strode off towards the door. Gloria and Vera stared at each other gob smacked. ‗The end of an era,‘ muttered Vera through a mouthful of crisps. ‗No more Pootlin‘s . . . no more Glamorous Granny,‘ added Gloria her eyeliner in danger of trickling down her cheek. No one was clapping. The crowd in the ballroom were stunned. 127


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Bert Oldcastle took stock and stood up. ‗Don‘t fret . . . Pootlin‘s will still be here next year only bigger and better than ever, under new management.‘ Gloria‘s wizened little face brightened at the news. ‗Me and my fiancée are taking over,‘ shouted Reg into the mike beckoning for Sue to join him on stage. ‗Well sort of,‘ said Sue giving Reg a squeeze. Gloria shuddered. ‗We will be around . . . but Pootlin‘s wouldn‘t be Pootlin‘s without Phyllis . . .‘ At this cue Phyllis waddled onto the stage with her arm around a funny little chap with a very red face and very curly hair. Sue raised Phyllis‘s free hand high in the air . . . . ‗Welcome to the new general manager of Pootlin‘s Holiday Marina. This year North Wales next year the World . . .‘ At the applause for Phyllis, Dennis Morgan‘s grin could have been plugged into the national grid. ‗That‘s all very well but we‘ve still got to choose the Holiday Princess grumbled Harry into Reg‘s ear. ‗Get on with it.‘ So Reg did! Shirley‘s mum danced back to their chalet on bubbles with Archie on her arm; a man in a 128


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dream. She‘d said yes. He was going to marry the ‗Holiday Princess‘ . . . did life get any better than this? Straggling along behind the happy couple and the pair of sleepy kids were two other weary stop-outs wending their way back to their chalet swigging on bottles of pale ale. ‗I say our Vera, I say, you can take that Cheshire Cat smirk off your kisser for a start. Sheer fluke that‘s all it was. A sheer fluke!! It‘s only plastic you know.‘ Vera was still too elated by her good fortune to take any notice of Gloria moaning on, ‗Did you say something Gloria? Only this lovely tiara‘s interfering with my hearing aid. Ho-Diddly-Ho!‘ she hiccupped.

u ro o m Gla

Gra nny

s

The End! 129


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Choosing The Holiday Princess

Edith Holland

Only an hour to go, excitement mounting, Fronts seats all taken by the cat-walk. They say there‘s a talent scout calling in, Some lucky girl will make The Mirror. Remember when I thought I‘d won? Somebody must have bribed the judges. Up the steps one by one, Nerves a jangle. Can‘t go on! Some long slim legs, some wobbly thighs, A Mae West bosom, WHAT A SIZE! How about that flowered bikini Must be made from Mum‘s old pinny. Look at that red ruched affair. She won at Blackpool! That‘s not fair! Who is it caught the judge‘s eye? Surely not that one in black, Look behind at that pimply back. And how about that bottle blonde, Think her hair needs more than lacquer. Seems dark roots give her the trouble. Don‘t like the look of that one judge, More like a farmer buying cattle. Number 7. Now she‘s a winner. She‘ll be first of all their choices. One more step up to the stage. Turning slowly. Show your best side. Whooops! She‘s slipped and turned her ankle. Things some do to get attention. Watch that red-head with a sly wink. Well, that‘s the limit! See who‘s first. That red-head with the roving eye, In our time that would be banned. Well there you are! Come on, we‘ve seen it all before! We had our chance in ‘54! 131


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A Day at the Mumbles

Judy Davies

The rest of the school holidays was spent with my grandparents in the country where the boys and I could roam free and enjoy the fresh air and the countryside. But this day was very special to us as we had just one day at the seaside each summer and for us seaside was what real holidays were all about. Early in the morning, when we all bundled ourselves onto the Swansea train Nana was glad for the hour‘s rest, having been up late the night before packing the beach things and preparing sandwiches and cake for the next day. Looking at a photo now I am reminded that for Granddad it was a smart occasion demanding shirt and tie, trilby, cavalry twill slacks and highly polished brogues. I can remember my whitened sandals and the black plimsolls for the stony beach. The boys wore their blazers and carried buckets and spades. Nana always had a bright floral frock. On top of this was her mac, which was something to sit on and a wind break to change behind. Before boarding the Mumbles train we used to have fish and chips at Woolworth‘s in Swansea. This was a very special treat. In fact I still have some of the cutlery amongst my holiday treasures. Once on the beach all our heavy bags were set down near the rock pools in the shelter of the cliffs. The photo shows us leaning in towards one another to fit into the 132


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picture, before dashing off in to the water to squeal and splash with all the other children. My swimsuit is a kind of seersucker multi coloured number and I see that my oldest brother wears a similar model I presume a hand me down, while the little one is in an old pair of knickers. I always felt at home in the water and being the eldest led the others on to explore the pools and collect precious bits of broken glass polished by the pounding of the waves. Imagining riches beyond compare we eagerly sifted for treasure. My youngest brother, forever fascinated by creatures, spent his time looking under stones for crabs and dipping his little bucket down to scoop up a tiny fish, to carry triumphantly up to Granddad, an accomplished fisherman, for his approval. Nana and Granddad would have a paddle at some point before leaning back to relax and enjoy the sunshine while we played. I have no photo of them but at this stage they had also changed into beach mode. For Granddad this was rolled up trousers and shirt sleeves. When he had read it a folded newspaper hat was shared with Nana who, stockings round her ankles would dole out tea from a flask and sandwiches inevitably dusted with sand. But that was what made it real holiday food, it was grand. All the fresh air and sunshine meant that we were constantly thirsty and gazed longingly 133


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at the ice cream kiosk. At some point Granddad would reach into his pocket and draw out his wallet asking who wanted to help carry the ices. A chorus of eager helpers all trooped behind him desperate to gorge ourselves, except my youngest brother who used to make his last so that he could taunt us as he slowly bit into his cornet and smacked his lips triumphantly. Each time the holiday was over too soon. Nana started asking us to get changed at least an hour before we really had to struggle back into our proper clothes. The smell of the toilets our final port of call before leaving the beach, was quite overpowering, but in spite of this memories remain unsullied. Scratchy sand and tiny stones in my sandals were extra treasures to look at on the train after a lingering glance out of the window as the seaside disappeared from view for another year. SUMMER HOLIDAYS

Peter G Shilston

When I was twelve, my parents booked the longest summer holiday we ever had together: more than two weeks in a chalet near Lyme Regis. As it happened, this proved to be something of a strategic error, since it rained every single day, 134


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or so I was later reminded. Thus, whenever we went down to the beach, we had to take plastic bags, to keep our clothes and towels dry while we were in the sea. But the real beach hazard wasn‘t the rain but the jellyfish; the dreaded Portugese Man o‘War. There seemed to be hundreds of these washed in with every tide; and I can remember them lying marooned on the beach, looking for all the world like delicately-coloured Cornish pasties, but with their stinging tentacles draped around them. Nevertheless, and despite these drawbacks, this was where I first learnt to swim properly. Also on the beach there were fossils to be found: grey segmented ammonites looking like sections of Catherine wheels, and the much rarer belemnites which resembled large pointed bullets. We still have our collections of these, and it is to this that I attribute my sister‘s decision to study geology, though she was only eight years old at the time. There was, of course, no television in our chalet; in fact I don‘t even remember there being a radio, but I don‘t recall feeling bored. I found a large pile of ancient copies of the ―Beano‖ in the washroom, and in the evening we had cards and board games. But I suspect it was more of a strain for my parents. Perhaps it‘s not surprising that we never booked another seaside holiday after this experience. 135


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Edith Holland Summer ‘48 I had an Aunt living in the Isle of Man and this year Jack took our little girl over there to see the T.T. Cycle races and to be cared for and have a lovely time by the sea. Her shorts and tops were all home-made as were other children‘s too. The donkeys had not returned but the rock pools gave endless fun. Summer ‘49 Now with two children our holidays were more conventional. We took a farmhouse at Clynnog Fawr near Caernarvon North Wales. We sent on ahead by rail a cot, high chair and cycles, still leaving us with what all five of us might need for two weeks. It was late August and the farm was alive every daylight hour with the business of the HARVEST, all new experiences for us, as was the final flourish of their efforts when Mrs Roberts made a huge pile of pancakes for everyone and even for us as well. The nearest beach was Trefor a two mile walk, but empty for our children‘s games. My mother was sharing our holiday and was so helpful, drying off wet children after a paddle, and organising the food. We had travelled there by train from West Bromwich to Pwlleli then by local ‗bus. Imagine five of us and all we needed for two weeks piling in the ‗bus, but it was all part of how holidays were done then. 136


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Of Sheep and Seagulls

Steph Spiers

Conway Caravan Park 1950s: Sheep noisily grazing under the window and seagulls squabbling on the tin roof are my first holiday memories. My parents usually borrowed an ancient Austin A40 and hired a tiny caravan from a friend for seven whole days semi-camping in North Wales as our annual jaunt to the seaside. Always in the Spring or Autumn, always when the gales off the Irish Seas were building up or not yet abating. The shoreline camp site was a higgledy-piggledy mess of vans spread out over the dunes, sandwiched between the sea and the main coastal railway line which hugged the base of a sheer black mountain. The toilet block was just that, one toilet block for the whole site, no showers and water had to be fetched from stand pipes. There was no electric light and the cramped caravan was lit by smelly gas lamps. Food was cooked on a gas ring and milk kept in a bucket of cold water under the van. Still the sand was golden and went on for miles, as did the wafts of jellyfish brought in on the tide and deposited in opaque purple streaks across the jetsam line; a hurdle which had to be jumped over if you wanted to go for a paddle. 137


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Cooking on hands and knees

Edith Holland

July ‗52: We were the proud owners of our first car, an ex-Navy Wolseley with leather upholstery, mahogany dash board etc. such comfort. Packed to its limits with home made sleeping bags the first plastic ground-sheets in bright red (courtesy of Dunlops) and a spirit stove for cooking which was no joke, as I had to manage cooking on my hands and knees. Always, getting by with school French and the good will of local people, we got as far as Paris only to be hailed by a Gendarme with his whistle and gesticulations as we took a wrong way round an island. Then in our ignorance thought that Roue Barre was a name of the road until we met the road workers. After that it was camping nearer home and on the Welsh coast, always including castles and dungeons to give atmosphere to our jaunts. 138


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Riding on the trams

Clive Hewitt

1950s Blackpool For several years, my family holidayed in Blackpool. Things were different. You left the ‗digs‘ after breakfast and didn‘t go back until teatime, when you had your dinner. My proper dinnertime was something like a packet of chips with some fish from the one Mum or Dad had. The sandy beach was a LONG walk for me; it must have been almost three quarters of a mile to the beach, but you could dig with your hands forever. Alongside burying Dad, motor boats and sand castles were built daily. I did like visiting the Pleasure Beach and having a go on the rides, but not the Ice Rink as it was always cold in there. Another marvel was riding on the trams. I‘d have stayed on all day if I could, clanging along from Star Gate to Fleetwood was a magic carpet ride! 139


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Nissen Huts

Edith Holland

By 1955 our business made it necessary to alter our holidays and so as we had a van now I took the children by coach to a small Holiday Camp in Old Colwyn. It was built around an old house and there were wooden huts for sleeping and meals in an ex-army Nissen hut. We had entertainment laid on, mostly it was the simple things like talent shows fancy dresses and musical chairs with flair!! One day the children had a sand castle competition, not very successful as the beach was a long way off.

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Trip to the Seaside

Gill Simmons

Every Spring we would start looking forward to ‗The Trip To The Seaside‘. We were mostly miners‘ kids and our dads would pay their membership fees into the Working Mens‘ Clubs of which there were several. I remember outings arranged by, ‗The Labour Club‘, and, ‗The Nest‘. Each club member got to take his kids to the seaside in the Summer. Every child got ‗spends‘, pop, crisps (Smiths‘ with a little blue twist) and a bag of sweets – probably pear drops – for the journey. (My sister still hates pear drops.) When the buses arrived to pick us up it was a real bun fight. We‘d all be scrambling up the narrow twisty stairs to the top deck to get the best seats. Buses were provided by Harper‘s Green Bus Company, garaged at Heath Hayes. Grown ups stayed below with the pop and beer crates (for the homeward journey). Quick head count – full to the gunwales – off we set. Through Cannock up the Watling Street off to Rhyl or maybe Blackpool. What a noisy clamour. Kids swapping seats, gossip, squabbles, and bossy older sister, bumptious brothers. All high spirits. Half way stop at a country pub for a pee and a pint. Then out came the sarnies packed by mums. We all rolled out at the beach full of energy and plans. Sand castles or big dippers? 141


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Candy floss or fish and chips? Paddle in the sea, no more than feet. Full emersion not an option. We loved the seaside but that much water was alien. Not to be trusted. Five o‘clock: back to the buses. Little ones flaked out. But time for the sing-song. Got to do the sing-song. Can‘t be called a day out at the seaside without the singsong. A half way pee break. Pubs are busy now so the ‗No coaches or buses allowed‘ signs go out. So it is a quiet stretch of road so boys can pee on one side and girls on the other. Except the mums, they stay put and ‗hang on till home‘. ‗Women are like camels, they can hang on all week,‘ mutters Dad. Back to base and the highlight of the year is over for a lot of kids. All for a bob a week dues.

1960s coach 142


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A Day Out to the Sea Side

Countryman

As kids we went to Sunday School, every week the same, Had a stamp stuck in a book, for religion is why we came, Come the summer they booked a coach, an outing to the seaside, Always was New Brighton, pent up, a good three hours ride. Started early from the village, pee stop on the way, Glimpse the sea from way back far, us kids we shout hooray, Every glimpse from way back far, loud cheer us kids we clapped, Couldn‘t wait to hit the beach, in that bus we were trapped. Stripped off behind a towel, that our Mothers held, Into our trunks, off down the beach, into the sea we yelled, With bucket n‘ spades, built a castle, with flag on the top. Dug a moat all around it, filled with buckets of water we slopped. Then a strong wave came, filled it faster than it oughta, Too much now it over flowed, filled it up with sea water, Build a dam to hold it back, and faster still we dug, Now we know the power of the sea, to hold it back, silly mugs. Mother spread a towel out, to have a picnic on the sands, Sandwiches in door steps, large bites we took with gritty hands, Cake as well she had made, then washed it down with Corona pop, So tiring was that long day out, slept all way home without a stop.

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Plane crash

Maurice Blisson

My Aunt Nettie kept a bed and breakfast during and after the war at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and I used to visit there with my mother, travelling on the train from London to Southampton and then on the ferry. One of my first childhood memories was of a tragedy. I was about seven and playing on the beach when a light plane flying overhead suddenly nose-dived into the sea. I watched as people swam out to the rescue and brought back the body of a woman. Despite strenuous efforts at resuscitation, they were unable to save her life. I remember reading it in the papers the next day and I believe that stimulated my interest - and subsequent lifelong career - in journalism.

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Gnosall Campsite

Clive Hewitt

Early 1950s — Gnosall is far from being a seaside village but ―The Woodcraft Folk‖ did go camping there. A weeks‘ camp was part of the ‗Pioneer‘ badge I was working towards. Sleeping in exArmy tents, smoky food cooked over wood fires, lots of fun all day, washing in the brook at the bottom of the field, digging a toilet trench, a townie‘s weeklong countryside learning experience. Mum was horrified. I was smelly and grubby when I got home but I was ecstatic. Seven Springs 1950s

Steph Spiers

My Auntie lived at Milford. I went to stay with her when my mother was in hospital. I was allowed to tag along behind my older cousin and all the local kids to trudge up to Seven Springs with a picnic during the long summer holidays. There was a rope swing from a branch over the stream which the lads would damn to make the water deeper for paddling. I remember going picking fat, purple blueberries for blueberry crumble and blackberries from the hedgerows by the canal. But the most vivid memory is that of a stag and three does nearly knocking Auntie over as they broke cover and bolted across a track way in the bracken. 145


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A day at the seaside

Geoffrey Lyon

Westcliffe-on-Sea was cleared for bathing shortly after the second World War ended. The beach was combed by military personnel in order to give Londoners a safe place to swim as peacetime returned in England. This little seaside town, near Dover, was a godsend to those children who had not been evacuated during the war years, those who had experienced the Blitz. The conflict had lasted a memorable six years. Of course, there were no donkeys on this beach, for the emphasis was on providing a clean, sandy place to play. However, there was no stopping the kittiwakes screaming above as they patrolled the coastline from St Margaret‘s Bay down to Dover itself. Apart from the ever present birds circling about in search of food the beach was used by only a few people, since the local population were apprehensive about setting foot on the sand. They had known all about the wartime mines floating in the area and could not believe it had recently been announced as fit to use. Now it was into this atmosphere that my brother and I were brought for the day in 1947. My brother immediately set about erecting a big sand castle whilst I helped by carrying water up from the foaming sea. Sand would not stand up on its own, so we needed plenty of water. While our parents sat in deck chairs and looked on 146


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approvingly we made a complete copy of Dover Castle. But when we stopped for the necessary picnic we noticed how the incoming tide was actually demolishing the hard work we had done over several hours. This was a big lesson to us both. In mid-afternoon, when mother and father were asleep, we began again, after all there was the British Spirit to consider. ‗Never Give In‘ my brother announced. So we fashioned an enormous castle this time with a moat, and we used sticks to act as little guns pointing outwards towards the sea and to Europe. The finished article took over three and a half hours to perfect. It was a lot stronger than the first one. Together we stood watching the tide gently entering our castle moat. The water embraced our hard work, and I got to think what David had said about not giving in. So I copied with the Churchill announcement . . . ‗we shall fight them on the beaches, we shall never surrender‘ . . . I cried out in a deep voice, and do you know, the water withdrew from our massive castle just then. Unfortunately, my father had woken up. He called, ‗Patrick, David come here and get your sandals on. The tide has turned and we are going home now.‘ Our day at the seaside had ended. 147


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Beach Bums

Judy Davies

Bob was in a hurry to set off, waiting impatiently in the car while I debated whether to risk a bikini or stick to the safer option of shorts and a one piece. Safety prevailed. I grabbed a towel and ran out side to where he sat revving the engine. I jumped in and we sped off heading for the coast. ‗I hope it‘s not stony there - I meant to bring my pumps.‘ ‗Oh, you won‘t need anything else. It‘s just sea and sand, lots of it. You‘ll love it, I do!‘ With the sun beating down on us we both looked forward to a nice cool dip. Having already changed into my swim suit I was relieved to have avoided the struggle of disrobing under a towel, and I could make my way into the water quickly when we arrived, thus avoiding exposure to the scenario where Bob sings the stripper song while gyrating his way out of his boxers. Friends for many years we had a close but uncomplicated relationship. I thought of him as another brother, boisterous, funny and solid. Leaving the car at the edge of the dunes we ambled along the sands barefoot seeking a spot to settle. Our peace was suddenly shattered as a helicopter came into sight speeding across above us only to hover some distance ahead over a small group of people who seemed to be 148


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squatting down around something on the sand. As we approached I could see that there was a casualty lying in their midst. We rushed forwards and then something made me stop. ‗They‘ve got no clothes on. Look, Bob, bare bums, in a ring,‘ I suggested. ‗What are you on about?‘ my grinning companion replied. ‗Oooh I can see what you mean!‘ he added as we made our way towards where the young men had moved apart to allow the crew to do its job. ‗Well I‘m an idiot aren‘t I. You tinker! You‘ve brought me to a nudist beach !‘ Until that moment I had been so preoccupied with my own thoughts I had failed to notice that dotted about in the dunes were various naked specimens each seeming unfazed by the experience. Further on now, surrounded by all sorts Bob suggested we set our things down and join the throng. Meanwhile, averting my eyes as he dropped his shorts, I was exposed to the spectacle of the masses of wobbly flesh around us. All sorts of shapes and sizes were on display, bounding and bouncing around, now lunging towards the sea, now bending carelessly to pick up a tennis ball and now transfixed in wonder at the beauty of it all. And there was more than plenty to wonder at. And it was hot, very hot. As I looked and grew hotter and more red-faced I decided to strip off. In the general spectrum of things I was not 149


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that bad and anyway no-one seemed to take much notice. It no longer mattered. Out of the corner of his eye I noticed Bob glanced furtively as I struggled to peel it all off casually before running, at full bounce headlong into the water soon to cover my confusion in its cool depths. It felt really luscious to slide and roll through the waves, free as nature intended, or rather as Bob had intended. I would have my revenge. ‗You can fetch the ice creams.‘ I shouted as he made to join me. ‗I‘ll have a 99. It reminds me of you,‘ I added. I watched his small hairy bum ride off on gangling, fuzzy legs along the beach. Then, as they retreated into the distance, there appeared from nowhere the strangest sight. Beneath a beach umbrella strode a plump little man sporting a ‗Kiss Me Quick‘ bowler hat. He carried a rolled newspaper under his arm and strode out regally leading a Yorkshire terrier whose tiny legs were dwarfed by his master‘s chubby, pink hams. As he passed in front of me I had just sat down on my towel so my eye was level with his distended belly overhanging the cutest little spout that flopped along proudly in spite of everything. Well, that just about summed it up for me. There comes a time when you just gotta let it all hang out! 150


RISING BROOK WRITERS

Photograph Acknowledgements:COVER: Donkeys: A Hooch www.skegnessvideo.co.uk Donkey Pair: Nuttall‘s Donkeys : J Nuttall Badger: www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages S Jackson Tunnels: New Zealand Travel Guide www.newzealand.0me.com Pancakes: www.kikipotamus.wordpress.com/waterloo.ontario Pumping Equipment: http://www.kitmondo.com Bathing Beauties: www.gorgeousgirls.info 1950s Swimming Pool: 1930s Bronwydd Park, Porth - Treorchy Library: www.ljh.d2g.com 1950s beach/car & tent /holiday camp: E Holland Blackpool tower:www.flickr.com/photos/fishyfish/2235001098/ 1950s Caravan Parks: www.oldclassiccars.co.uk Boy on pony: M Blisson Mumbles Beach 1950s: J Davies Where possible copyright free graphics in the public domain have been used unless a license to use has been requested, or the source permits not-for-profit educational use. Should anyone‘s copyright be accidentally infringed please let us know and RBW will willingly remove, or gratefully acknowledge, the source in any reprint.

Published by Rising Brook Writers a voluntary charitable trust, RCN 1117227, enabled by grant aid from the Midlands Co-operative Society and workshop space kindly provided by Staffordshire Your Library Service. All Over 50s are welcome to visit RBW Community Creative Writing Workshops (free of charge) : Monday Afternoons: 1-30pm to 3-30pm Rising Brook Library, Merrey Road, Stafford. Paper used is free of chlorine bleach. (Please recycle) Printed by John Leigh Printers, Aston Fields, Stafford 151


COLDWYND SANDS

Rising Brook Writers Proudly Presents

Remember the 1960s? In the best British comedy tradition our tale is set in the original Holiday Camp from hell. Join us in a fanciful homage to that great British institution, the annual seaside holiday. Oh we DID like to be beside the seaside!

ISBN 978-0-9557086-2-6

£3-00 Rising Brook Writers: A voluntary charitable trust — RCN 1117227 152

Donation appreciated

Coldwynd Sands  

Hilarious British farce - in carry on tradition - mishap and mayhem at a post war seaside holiday camp in