The Edge Magazine July 2022

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EDGE

the ISSUE NO: 304

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of miles per hour. Oh the joys of getting old.

DEAKS Just so you’re all aware, I no longer edit the columns Deaks sends me (see page 20), starting this edition. He thinks they’re always “perfect” when he sends them to me anyway, so hey, I’ll let you readers be the judge of that.

STREET PARTY

The Edge Editor’s Column BOTHAM Saw a bottle of wine in the supermarket called Botham (from his 80 series, although I’d have figured he’d call it 100), and yes, it was by Sir Ian himself. A cabernet sauvignon from Coonawarre that didn’t taste too shabby at all.

FATHER-IN-LAW

SIR KEIR STARMER Could have sworn I saw Sir Keir cycling through Admirals Park on a mountain bike around lunchtime on Monday 13th June. But hey, I clearly might be wrong.

GLEDITISIA TRIACANTHOS Or Gleditsia Triacanthos f. inermis Sunburst, to give it its full title, is quite simply my all time favourite tree. It’s colouring and small, dainty leaves are honestly quite stunning (look it up) and Mrs Edge and I were absolutely gutted when we had to cut ours down, due to the fact it had literally outgrown our garden. But if you’ve got sufficient room, to my mind at least, no garden is complete without one.

HOT-HOT-HOT God it’s been hot, hasn’t it? Who needs ‘abroad’ with temperatures like Chelmsford del Sol? THE EDGE Chelmsford CM2 6XD 077 646 7 97 44 shaun@theedgemag.co.uk

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The father-in-law’s getting worse, if you know what I mean? By some strange quirk of coincidence, we both own Citroen C4’s, so he rings me up the other day to ask me how fast mine goes. I answered that I didn’t rightly know, but that it was all about economy for me these days. However, intrigued, I asked him why was he asking me such a question when he’s aged 86. “Because,” he told me, he was “doing one hundred and one” the other day, yet people were still going past him. Tut. Silly old bugger had somehow accidentally changed his screen setting to kilometers instead

It’s weird, but looking back on the Waterhouse Platinum Street Party of Friday 3rd June, amazing though it was (and it was pretty amazing), I think my abiding memory might well be towards the end of the day before, when the street was utterly devoid of vehicles, the road had been swept from top to bottom, all the gutters had been cleared of weeds and years of compacted earth, and ‘Mighty Marv’ had patiently bolted numerous palates together to form a mini-stage and a couple of blocks to mount the speakers on. Yep, surveying such a scene and enjoying a cold one with just a few other lovely souls after a full days prep really did take a bit of beating.

NEW NEIGHBOURS I’m delighted to announce that we have got some brand new neighbours and they are both lovely, lovely, lovely. They’re also very young, young, young. Indeed, Mrs Edge and I are probably old enough to be their grandparents, but already we are extremely proud of them as no sooner did they get the keys than they knocked on our door, introduced themselves and, with the help of their family, it’s been an immediate case of crash, bang, wallop...but in a good sense. Both front and back lawns were immediately strimmed (as the previous occupants had let them become overgrown to knee height), a ridiculously ugly bush that had grown to become a ridiculously ugly 7ft bush in their front garden was severed at its base, while on day two the old kitchen was promptly ripped out. Oh yes, these kids mean business! They’re also investigating acoustic cladding (or whatever it’s called) as we’re semi-detached, yet Countryside must have originally built these houses and separated them with tissue paper, as when a plug goes into a socket on their side of the dividing wall, it’s as if it’s happening in our house, so god only knows what it’s like in their bedroom (which backs on to our bathroom) after I’ve had a night on the ale and a vindaloo? What’s brilliant though is to discover two young people with a similar mindset, as it’s their very first home together and they clearly want it to look nice and take a pride in it, and what the hell’s wrong with that?

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As well as there being 10,000 physical copies of The Edge produced each & every month, were you aware that The Edge has over 12,000 online followers? No readers, your editor wasn’t either, as I’m not very au fait with the whole online movement and that’s the truth. But apparently the figures on 21st June 2022 were as follows:1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Pees pants Sits on potty to pee Pees standing up Pees sitting down Pees pants

FACECOCK Shaun Edge 4,645 The Edge 1,800 INSTAGRAM 1,637 So what I’d now like to do is increase the number of subscribers who receive The Edge online each and every month as it costs you sweet bugger all to do so. Simply log on to www.theedgemag.co.uk/subscribe and it’ll reach you every month ABSOLUTELY FREE!

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Are any other guys familiar with the term ‘a little bit of wee just came out’? No? Oh, well in that case, clearly The Edge isn’t familiar with it either. But just supposing it was, OMG, what a bind it is, getting older. Your editor will have reached the grand old fart/age of 61 by the time you folks read this edition and dear oh dear, when I wanna go these days, I really do have to go, immediately, because I struggle to hold onto it these days. So has a little bit of wee ever come out? Well, it might have.

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I swear to you, readers, this pic is 100% genuine and was not staged. In fact, I didn’t even have my phone with me at the time, so I had to flag down some unsuspecting soul, borrow their phone, then get them to forward this pic onto me. But hey, you cannot put a price on stuff like this, so I knew I just had to make it happen somehow. I had merely popped to Sainsbury’s to top up my stash of mags on display there when I saw this lady (Margaret’s her name) avidly reading a copy just outside. “You enjoying that?” was my cheery opening gambit. “Yes,” said Margaret, “it’s very good.” Chuffed to bits, I told her, “I do that.” And which point she came back at me with the classic line of: “Really? Which bit?” What I think’s so very good about this image is that it clearly demonstrates that The Edge is read by real, local peeps of all ages, and that it’s quite impossible to pigeonhole an ‘average Edge reader’, as they simply don’t exist (nor are any of them ‘average’). “I’ll put you in the July editions,” I promised Margaret. “Oh good,” she said. “I’ll be sure to look out for a copy.” Bless her.

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When I was a kid, life was different. Whilst I appreciate that pretty much every generation since the beginning of time has probably been able to say that (for very different but equally as valid reasons), I say it now in the context of comparing my own childhood to that of my children. I was born in 1980, and therefore the predominant part of my childhood was during the 1980s. A time that doesn’t feel that long ago (at least to anyone who actually remembers it), but it was a time when children could have a lot more freedom, in the form of ‘playing out’, which was certainly the norm on my council estate. It wasn’t unheard of to get up, down a bowl of Coco Pops, knock for your mates and head on out for a day of fun before your parents had even got up. I fondly remember riding bikes, roller skating (with my epic rainbow Care Bear skates) and having fierce debates about which team was ‘first pick’ and which was ‘first run’ in the game Runouts. We would only go home when our stomachs rumbled, or when we heard the distant approaching chimes of the ice cream van and we had to leg it up the stairs to see if anyone had any spare change for a Popeye. It was also an era and the type of community where you tended to know your neighbours quite well (whether you actually wanted to or not) and that wasn’t solely because we all lived (quite literally) on top of one another in flats. I remember how, to me, the green behind our flats felt like a big field that reached to forever, and a trip to the local corner shop to buy a 10p (or 20p if you were feeling flush) mix bag of sweets felt like a huge adventure. Kids played football or catch around the flats, right in front of the fading ‘No Ball Games’ signs and I didn’t know anyone who actually belonged to a team or played a proper sport. It was pretty much a given that after school everyone would be available and there was no need to arrange actual play dates, or involve parents, because everybody was out together anyway. Fast forward 30 years or so and I find myself with 3 children currently in the same first formative decade of their own childhoods, except that theirs is in stark contrast to the freedom I once enjoyed. In some ways, theirs is far more privileged. Children don’t tend to ‘play out’ anymore (I’m sure there are exceptions, but for under

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10s to have the level of freedom we once enjoyed is almost unheard of now). Instead, their leisure time tends to be consumed by either electronics, or extra curricular activities. I cannot deny that as a family our term time schedule is pretty insane. Almost every weekday evening and weekend features some form of club or class for one or more of the kids. Between them, they do gymnastics, football, swimming, dancing, Beavers, Cubs and karate. It is a chaotic timetable to say the least, involving something akin to a daily relay race for myself and the ‘Legendary Dave’ in order to logistically make it all work. But this Jenga lifestyle comes with some undeniable benefits. The children have had some amazing opportunities, including kayaking, abseiling, rock climbing and crate stacking at Scout camps, as well as the chance to compete, and be a part of, a team. They all really enjoy physical activities and work hard at their chosen pursuits. My daughter, age 9, in particular is a very keen gymnast and spends most of her waking time practising her contortions. Watching her flourish since she started at the tender age of 3, I have seen gymnastics instill in her real perseverance, dedication and determination. These things don’t come easy, but I watch her getting stronger all the time and repeatedly trying until she can do something. I often reflect how I had no such skills or dedication at her age, when I think my main goal was to learn to ride my bike one handed. My son, age 7, has really blossomed into his clubs over the past year or so. Karate is his newest chosen pursuit and his determination, concentration and growing strength is honestly an inspiration. My youngest, age 5, is counting down the days until he can follow in his brothers footsteps at Beavers and often puts the uniform on at home ‘to practise’. On the very rare afternoon that Dave and I aren’t delivering and collecting children to and from a variety of places on a military precision schedule, I feel obliged to acquiesce to their pleas for play dates and invariably end up with 6 kids running riot around my house for a few hours after school (because a friend each is actually far less aggro than any other dynamic). The actual organisation of these in terms of who is free when, transport, car seats, permission to collect from school, food allergies/likes/ dislikes is a whole other logistical minefield. The other huge difference I see in their childhood compared to mine is their dynamic as a trio so close in age. I have one sister who is nearly 9 years older than me, so by the time I was ready to play she was off being a cool teen with her friends (with the biggest hair you’ve ever seen). When our three are at home together, the reality is that there is always someone to play with, have a sleepover with, or team up with. Of course, this also means there is always someone to argue with too, but at their current ages they do play really well together most of the time. Sometimes I stand and watch them tearing around the garden, screaming “The floor is LAVA!” and I realise even though the world is now a very different place to the one I grew up in, their childhood is just as special, in its own way. One day I hope they will watch their own children play and whilst I’m sure they will observe significant differences from their own youthful experiences, I also hope they realise that all the magic, innocence and adventure of childhood is the one thing that never changes and that is the most important thing of all.


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It oh so truly is, don’t you think, readers? And seventy years on the throne; now that’s what you call ‘service’. The Edge does want there to be a King Charles though (he’s waited long enough, after all). Only what if he abdicates and passes the ‘hot seat’ on to Prince William? We might think, ‘Oh, he’s a bit too young for such a role. He’s not ready yet.’ But he’s somehow gotten to the ripe old age of 40 already, whereas the Queen was only 27 when she took up the ‘top job’. Will England ever return to being a republic, like we were in 1649 after Charles I was beheaded? Many people are in favour, but The Edge doesn’t know. Think of all the money the royal family generate in tourism. Plus a royal family is all we’ve ever known. And wouldn’t we miss all the pomp and ceremony? I know I’d have missed not having the Waterhouse Street Party!

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I

Edge of the World travel correspondent. Embarks on assignments in a futile effort to preserve his sense of youth, always acknowledging that he ‘Won’t pass this way again’.

’ve been astounded at the excitement and anticipation generated by my tales of walking across our fair county. Flattered by your interest, I’ve yielded to your relentless tide of requests and finally walked from Great Dunmow to Saffron Walden to complete the final 22 miles of the Saffron Trail. What’s more, I can report that trapesing the footpaths between the rural villages of North Essex in late May was an absolute joy. As progeny of the Suffolk diaspora, maybe I was being drawn toward my ancestral lands across the border by some deep primal force, explaining perhaps why my legs were apparently untroubled by the distance.

Tilty

Uttlesford District boasts many charming and seemingly timeless villages and my amble featured the Eastons, Chickney, the Henhams, Widdington, Newport, Wendens Ambo and Audley End. But it was the tiny settlement of Tilty that enthralled the most, for here I happened upon Tilty Abbey. Did you even know that North Essex was the site of a thriving Cistercian monastery from the mid-12th century until the dissolution at the hands of Henry VIII in 1536?

Sadly, only two small remnants of wall remain, but they acted as an arcane archaic trigger as I was immediately minded of Siem Reap, the gateway town to North West Cambodia’s temple district which I visited a few years ago. Read on, because I’m sure you’ll agree that this modest crumbling relic in an Essex field bears an uncanny resemblance to Cambodia’s Angkor Watt, the 1.6 km² UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest religious monument. They are contemporaneous too, both having been constructed in the 12th Century. Spooky, hey!

Cambodia I recall arriving in Siem Reap late afternoon on a flight from Ho Chi Minh City and being immediately struck by just how poor Cambodia appeared. However, I was to learn that the tourist dollar affords this city and its inhabitants a markedly higher standard of living than rural areas of the country. The temples of the Khmer Empire are a huge tourist attraction (over 3 million visitors per annum pre-pandemic) so the city feels like a resort. This sense was further reinforced when I took a tuk tuk and headed out for drinks and dinner. The ‘cosmopolitan food and drink scene’ (aka Pub Street) is all neon lights, loud music, cheap food and drink and it ensures that the multi-national tide of tourists are in good spirits. The place really has a pleasant and relaxed vibe, but all the Page 10

commercialism seems a little at odds with the city’s boast as being the gateway to the region’s 300+ ancient temples. I visited as many sites as possible including some of the major temples: • Ta Prohm - In much the same condition as when it was rediscovered by Henri Mouhot in 1860: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of giant tree roots entwined in the ruins and the jungle surroundings secured its supporting role as the backdrop to the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film. • Angkor Thom is centred around the Bayon temple, the most distinctive features of which are the serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace. • Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, but it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It is undoubtedly Cambodia’s no.1 tourist attraction and the entrance ticket (providing access to all of the Angkor temples) at $37 must be a major cash generator for the country. Little did Khmer King Suryavarman II realise what a favour he was doing his Khmer descendants when he commenced his construction project. Angkor was the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire which existed between 802-1431. Researchers, using satellite photographs and other modern techniques, have established that the greater Angkor area was the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The temples are visually stunning and the history is totally fascinating. I chatted at length with a local teacher who spoke very good English and was grateful for his generosity in providing some great insights about the complex history of the temples and Cambodia’s more recent painful past. Quietly spoken and immensely knowledgeable, he had the misfortune of being born in 1977. He was separated from his parents, a teacher and a nurse, at 3 months of age when they were taken away by the Khmer Rouge. They never returned, both being victims of the genocide under Pol Pot’s brutal agrarian experiment between 1975-1979. Raised in a Buddhist temple, he learned the English which now equips him to work as a tour guide for 3 months every year to supplement the income from his farm. He also teaches English to poorer youngsters of the community. The Cambodians are football mad (especially for the English Premier League) and he was a Liverpool fan. He told me he played twice a week for the village as a full-back, but at 41 I reckon his team mates, most are also his students, feel obliged to let ‘Sir’ continue playing. Predictably many of his mates are Man. Utd. fans, but apparently the Buddhist monk who taught him English was a West Ham fan (obviously he was well on the way to enlightenment and infinite wisdom). He amused me with tales of meeting his mates to watch football on the village’s communal cable TV. During the matches the men routinely drink dangerous quantities of rice wine (the 40% proof variety) which is distilled in the village. My new Cambodian buddy also told me about the annual rites of passage celebrations held in rural villages. Any village boys who’ve reached the age of 16 are required to slaughter the pig they’ve raised. It’s also an opportunity for them to demonstrate which local girl is the focus of their future marital aspirations. They do this by giving their sweetheart a choice cut of pork meat (I seem to recall being rather eager to do the same when I was 16). The term ‘templed out’ gets ascribed to the sense of overload that some western tourists experience after many days visiting ancient religious sites in South East Asia, but I can honesty state that I was in awe of the temples in Cambodia and felt a sense of wonderment as I entered each new site. So, come on Uttlesford District Council, what are you waiting for? With its proximity to Stansted Airport, and it’s uncanny parallels with the relics of the Khmer empire, surely it’s time for the promotion of Tilty as Essex’s eighth wonder of the world?

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Let us introduce you to what can only be described as certainly not your usual, traditional hotel (see front cover). Channels are a family run establishment which welcomes guests to their peaceful, expansive site, which was originally a Tudor house with outbuildings called Belsteads Farm. Refurbishment began on a small scale, with 2006 marking the opening of 6 rooms including 2 bridal suites based in the Tudor house. But as the years progressed, each of the outbuildings have been transformed into luxurious contemporary rooms, currently totalling 32, all which provide their guests with a wonderfully relaxing stay.

SW CHIM EMMIN IC G P A O LS O L

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O LS A

LL SE

Multiple styles are available, with rooms located in the main house their most traditional, all providing quality and superb amenities. Original features, such as oak beams and large fireplaces in multiple rooms, have been incorporated, providing guests with a truly timeless experience. Each room ensures their guests consider Channels to be a true ‘home from home’, with luxurious king-size beds to sink into, Chromecast on every television, free WiFi and remote-controlled air conditioning. Complimentary tea and coffee is provided, so you never have to worry about not being able to start your morning in your usual fashion. Their 2 bridal suites provide the luxury one expects, as well as generously sized bathrooms containing both grand free-standing baths and showers. A comfortable ground floor lounge provides all guests staying in the main house with a private space to relax in of an evening. Located throughout the rest of the site in multiple buildings are 16 ground floor courtyard en-suite rooms. Dog friendly with patio doors, their 14 executive rooms and 2 suites are more contemporary than those in the main house, yet no less luxurious. Once again, large televisions with Chromecast and air conditioning are a staple in every room. Individual room profiles are featured on Channels website which allow you to pick your favourite, with some rooms having Velux windows and others ginormous bathtubs which previous guests have stated they “could swim in”.

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Channels Retreat is one of the jewels in the Channels Hotel crown. It is a stunning historic brick built barn conversion which has been designed primarily to provide luxurious and contemporary accommodation for wedding guests on the eve of that very special day. However, that hasn’t held back couples wanting to pamper themselves with a romantic getaway, primarily due to the private courtyard and hot tub. Three en-suite bedrooms, a double-height lounge, fully equipped kitchen and salon complete this amazing space. Finally, finished just last month, their second barn conversion, containing 5 rooms, including a Master Bridal Suite, completes the set. Each room has been designed to the same high standard and quality as remainder of the hotel with the new suite being double-height. Within is a vast lounge and kitchen, overlooked by the mezzanine level bedroom, underneath which is the spacious bathroom which has a double vanity, walk-in shower and jacuzzi tub for that extra ‘wow factor’!

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Stay tuned for news of their new dining destination completing in July while they look forward to welcoming you to Channels Hotel.

www.theedgemag.co.uk

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TBH, I’d have liked to have gone, but it was a GDO (girl’s day out). It’s dubbed the ‘World’s Greatest Flower Show’ and I don’t know about you, but we watch Gardeners’ World (well, Mrs Edge doesn’t miss a show) every single week. I’m sure I remember a bloke called Percy Thrower introducing the programme way back in the mid-to-late sixties, although frankly (I was under 10 at the time), I didn’t take a blind bit of notice. But these days gardens have totally transformed to become an ‘extension of the home’, haven’t they, and it’s all gone rather avant garde. For instance, we only do green (well, you have to), white, yellow and orange, and that’s it. So the purples in this photograph below would be a huge no-no for us at ‘Edge Towers’, on account of it being, well, not white, yellow or orange. And is wooden garden furniture really coming back in vogue, because it’s never the same colour once the weather gets at it, is it? So we sold ours to make way for a far more ‘rattan effect’ from Westminster Outdoors, just opposite Tesco in Springfield Road. I love being out in the garden just chilling, reading, with a nice cold one, every now and again looking up if I hear a bee buzzing nearby, or a birdie or two drinking or washing themselves in one of our birdbaths, or simply looking at the amazing job Mrs Edge has truly done with all of our trees, plants and bushes. Marvelous.

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However, saying it's just a ‘feel good movie’ simply doesn't do it justice.The incredible hard work, dedication and commitment to get this film made shines through, including all the actors performing their own flying stunts to make the action feel as real as possible. I'm not going to say too much else about the plot as there are some fantastic moments in the film that manage to tie up a few story threads and arcs from the original movie quite nicely, and, on occasion, bring a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.

1986 A good year that sticks in my mind, not just for only being 10 years old without any responsibilities or cares in the world....well, apart from whether I was going to be able to complete my Mexico’86 Panini sticker album. Annoyingly, to this day I'm still in need of a couple of the foils. 1986 was also a good year for the cinema, with the summer blockbuster really hitting a peak and a certain Tom Cruise taking us to the ‘danger zone’ on his ‘mighty wings’ and giving us the: "I feel the need, the need for speed" catchphrase that was shouted across many a playground or anywhere the male testosterone levels was pumped up to the max. Everyone wanted to be Maverick or Iceman, but not so much Goose, for obvious reasons. I remember my eldest cousin Sparky (Mark) who was living with us at the time going to see it six times at the cinema and playing the soundtrack constantly (one of the most purchased and played movie soundtracks of the 80's, along with Dirty Dancing).

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By the time it came out on VHS to rent, the video shop never seemed to have enough copies in to satisfy demand. Thankfully I worked at the other local corner shop which also had a video rental area and the owner, Vas, got me an ex-rental copy cheap so that me and my cousin could watch it non-stop ’til our hearts content. Yup, that really was a great summer, and a hot one as well. Fast forward 36 years and we now have a sequel that we never knew we wanted, or needed, but boy am I glad they have made it. On 25th May 2022, almost 36 years to the day of the original release, me and the good wife won tickets to a preview showing of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. The film runs for roughly 2hrs 20mins and do you know what - I had a smile on my face the entire duration. Page 14

However, all I will say is that the moment the opening credits start (scene for scene of the original) and the Top Gun anthem followed by Danger Zone blasts through the speakers, it's time to switch off, leave your troubles behind, and simply enjoy the ride.

ENGLAND It really does seem a case of ‘one step forward, two steps back’ at the moment for our national footie team. I write this on the back of our loss to Hungary and the bore draw against Ze Germans, and on the eve of playing the Italians in a repeat of our Euro final loss last year, which was yet another wasted opportunity. I honestly don't think I remember ever feeling this uninspired with an England squad, or team, leading up to games, due to knowing how our manager, Gareth, is going to set up. As we approach the match against Italy, I hope he takes the shackles off and allows the boys to play with freedom, especially when we have as much talent as we do in Foden, Grealish, Rice, Kane and Raheem, plus chuck into the mix the enthusiasm of Bowen and these really ought to be exciting times for the country. I love what Southgate has done over the past few years in bringing a nation back together and getting us behind the team again. He has given us some pride back with where we have finished in recent tournaments compared to previous regimes. But I think now could be the right time to allow someone else to take over and take this group of players to the next level and help turn runners-up into winners, because sadly, I can't see him being able to do that. Maybe he has simply taken us the furthest he can do as a manager. Sometimes it's better to leave the hero, before you stay long enough to become the villain. Perhaps he should be a little more Maverick and a little less Goose? Be lucky. The Polak. x The Edge 077 646 797 44


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Might have got my quotes muddled up there a bit, but the point is... Ye Olde Edge bloke needs you good hearted, good willed readers to keep on helping him out a bit. If I could simply ‘make do’ with the advertising revenue The Edge generates, then believe me, I would. But it’s gone beyond that these days, as in the past we never had Brexit and what with the paper The Edge is printed on being imported from Europe....well, you can guess the rest. Which is why I am asking you to donate a minimum £1 per edition and do that on a regular monthly basis, or at least each and every time you pick up a copy of the The Edge. Or, if you’re feeling flush, feel free to donate whatever you feel you can afford, or whatever you feel is appropriate, under the circumstances. And honestly, that’s about as much as I can say on the matter. Only please understand that this is an ongoing situation, rather than any ‘flash in the pan’. The problems I now face aren’t going away. Which is why I am trying to explain matters to you as fairly and squarely as I am able to. Have to say, I have been proper touched by the donations some of you have already made and your messages of support. Not everyone likes The Edge, I’m well aware of that. But those of you that do really seem to like it a lot and that honestly warms the cockles of my heart and makes it all worthwhile. So here’s to the next edition and the one after that and the one after that, although that can only happen if you don’t mind playing your part in helping to keep the good ship HMS afloat.

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Your kind generosity is always most appreciated, readers.

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But Lurch does on our away-days surveying. Sometimes he even taps the keys of his mobile phone that’s magnatised to his car dashboard, gets sent an order number and its handed over without him even having to leave his motor. Talk about FAST food!

Love this photo as the first thing I thought when I saw it was: ‘WOAH! That’s Motco shaving of a morning, is that!’ The very same Motco who writes for you all on page 29 every month, we’re talking about. Naturally he’ll swear blind it isn’t him, readers, and it’s not. But hey, who cares. Because it’s a photo that instantly puts a smile on your face, and I’ll tell you what, after the news I’ve had this week and what it’s going to cost me (like a bolt from the black, rather than the blue), I for one could certainly do with something to smile about, as I’ve been that unhappy I’ve hardly been able to sleep without having bloody nightmares. Why oh why does life have to trip you up when you least expect it?

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Mrs Edge WhatsApp’d me this photo from her recent visit to the Chelsea Flower Show with an accompanying message which simply instructed me to: Zoom in! Clearly she meant to the sign hanging from the door of the shed, which reads: ‘A lovely lady and a grumpy old man live here’. Which is charming, isn’t it? Although there’s definitely an element of truth in it because the older your editor gets, the more he’s turning into Victor Meldrew. But in my defense, there’s an awful lot to be grumpy about these days. I guess I’ve simply never been one of those ‘half full’ kinda guys. And to be honest, excess positivity gets on my tits.

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DEAKS

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Holiday Spotting

afternoon, or that Spain in June is simply too hot. Then you have the in-love young couple who spend all day canoodling, popping back to the room for ‘water’ every hour and probably wishing that, being young and free, they had booked their week’s break at a different time to half-term. There is also normally a poor ginger fella somewhere in the mix, sitting in the shade beneath an umbrella, who doesn’t get into the pool until the sun has gone down behind the hotel. Then there’s that creepy old uncle type who sits at the plastic table and chairs getting his money’s worth of Rum & Cokes, smoking his roll-ups. He’s probably quite a friendly old sort really and always engaging in conversation, but the dark sunglasses are surely a clear insight into his ulterior motives. “You’re sitting inside, Dave? Why are you wearing sunglasses in a resort full of skimpy bikinis?” one might ask. I swear I saw one such ‘Dave’ on my trip, having a swim, and when he got out of the pool the ‘S’ had fallen off of his Speedo’s. Yes, it was a real insight into Brits abroad, but it didn’t detract from a great break overall and I would highly recommend Ibiza as a family friendly holiday for anyone looking for a summer getaway.

Soccer Aid I’m not normally one to watch Soccer Aid but I had a few life admin tasks to do last month and so had it on whilst I was working away on the laptop. Unfortunately for my productivity, I couldn’t help but get sucked into what was a very entertaining game. It’s certainly different to see a game mixed with ex-pros, women and ‘celebrities’, particularly when you have the worlds strongest man in goal and the worlds fastest man up front. What was strange was that despite it being a friendly for charitable causes, it was still more entertaining than half the Nations League fixtures played the week before. There were some real stand out performers; Cafu looked like he was the best player on the pitch, despite being closer to his pension than his playing days. Tom Greenan, the singer, put in such a good performance that he might have given Gareth Southgate something to think about in terms of his World Cup squad selection. It was also interesting to see the women taking part. It was obvious their technical ability is there, but equally obvious that the superior strength and physicality of the men meant they couldn’t really get into the game. Mark Clattenburg (should be

Battenberg, surely?) was the referee for the occasion, so there were always going to be some dodgy decisions, hence we saw a couple of incredibly dubious penalties awarded. But that didn’t matter too much as the game ended up 2-2 with the Rest of the World team beating England on penalties to win the trophy. All in all, it was really good entertainment and certainly something I will look forward to watching again next year.

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I have just returned from an allinclusive family trip to Ibiza and a very nice holiday it was too. Granted things are always a bit different going to the party capital of Europe with kids, compared to, say, 10 years ago, but it is still a lovely island with great locals and fantastic beaches. We were fortunate enough to miss any major travel disruptions and the short two hour hop is the perfect family destination. The kids (6 and 3) are a bit older now, so you can pull a deckchair up to poolside and relax a little bit more without the fear of one of them immediately drowning. Granted you can’t get carried away with a good book, but the alternative is soaking up some delicious sun whilst people watching. Which is pretty fascinating really; a sort of microcosm of society. It always amazes me that you have such a wide variety of people at the same hotel and impressive that the travel agent can make a hotel appeal to such a wide variety of personalities. We’ve all been there, surely. There’s always that one woman who isn’t happy about anything and gets more enjoyment out of complaining than she does her actual holiday. It could be that the chips are too cold, the ice cream machine didn’t work one

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ONLY JOKING! OLDER

As I get older, I find I only need three shops; Vision Express, Boots and Greggs. My life is now just specs, drugs and sausage rolls.

STRAIGHT TALKING A doctor held a stethoscope to a man’s chest. After a while, the man said, “Tell it to me straight, Doc. How do I stand?” The doctor replied, “That’s what puzzles me.”

LIFE PHILOSOPHY I’ve learned that pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.

WRITING A BOOK They say that everyone’s got a book in them (even Deaks), so yes, I’ve obviously thought about writing one. But whilst shopping in Tesco this morning I saw one for three quid and thought: ‘What, all the time and effort it’d take to write one for three measly quid? Sod that’.

WRONG FONT When I had my son christened, the vicar used the wrong font. So now he’s a Times New Roman Catholic.

WALKING ON WATER I wonder if Jesus can turn off his ‘walking on water’ skill? Do you reckon he’d just bounce across the surface and smack into the far wall if he tried to dive into Chelmsford swimming baths?

SIMPLY THE BEST My 12-year-old just said to me: “You’re the best Daddy ever.” Shucks. But I’m not letting it go to my head because she always says that when we get pissed together.

OFFENDED Dear Chubby People who are offended by ‘fat jokes’. FFS, lighten up.

WIFE’S NOTE My wife had left a note for me on the dining room table when I got home from work.

My heart almost stopped beating as I read: "Sorry Babe, but this simply isn't working." Imagine my relief as I grabbed the TV remote, turned the tele on, which was working perfectly, and I still had some beers in the fridge.

DIFFERENT STROKES Wow! So when you guys say that chicken is delicious, it's OK. But whenever I mention that cock is delicious, I get ridiculed?

GAMBLING It’s weird how some peeps will hesitate before gambling twenty quid, but not bat an eyelid before buying a vodka & coke in a nightclub.

NATURAL Sex just feels more natural when it’s with someone.

HONESTLY When someone thinks I give a f ck I will take * the time out to help them look for it.

APRIL FOOLS DAY Every day is April Fools day when you are attracted to men.

JOEY v JOE “Hi. I’m Richard Osman and welcome to ‘Pointless Celebrity Knobheads’. In the first of a brand new series, Joey Essex takes on Joe Swash...”

EDGE FAVOURITE Old McDonald had a farm, , E I E I O. And on that farm he had a dolphin, Eee Eee Eee Eee Eee.

LISTENING You can tell a lot about someone just by bugging their phone and listening in on their telephone conversations.

CACTI Cacti are the gym bros of the plant world… forever flexing their pricks.

DAD’S URN Mum finally plucked up the courage to bring Dad's urn into the living room and place it carefully on the mantlepiece. It was a bittersweet moment and caught everyone a little by surprise, including Dad who was sat there with his feet up watching Countdown.

TO BE... Shakespeare: "To be, or not to be. That is the question.” Shrodinger: "See, this guy gets it.”

HENRY VIII Henry VIII, out on a date: "So, my second wife…” Jane Seymour: "Oh, so you’ve been married twice before, HAVE YOU? That’s a lot.” Henry VIII [nervously]: "Haha. Erm…yes. Well? Is it really though?”

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE When I was young, I was poor. But now, after years of hard graft, I am no longer young.

PANIC ROOM I never thought of getting a panic room…until she started clapping whilst she spoke to me.

WOW Get this. I’m just two girls short of a threesome.

Q&A Q. What do you get if you mix goat DNA with human DNA? A. Kicked out of the petting zoo for starters.

NUN The word nun is simply the letter N doing a cartwheel.

SPIRITUALIST Went to see a spiritualist the other day. Told me I was a fish in a previous life. Talk about gutted.

IMMEDIATELY She said: "I can't even tell you how upset I am" ....before immediately contradicting herself.

SPIDERMAN When Spiderman shoots his sticky substance all over someone, he’s ‘amazing’. But when I do it, hmmmm, not so good.

BAD BOYS I accidentally let it slip that I had a thing for bad boys, so now he’s started loading the dishwasher all wrong.

PLASTIC SURGEON So I was referred to a plastic surgeon, who patiently explained to me that plastic explosives might be an alternative consideration.

FAVOURITE CHILD Turns out that when they ask you who is your favourite child, you’re supposed to pick one of your own.

SNOWMAN GRAVE Thought I’d found a massive snowman grave. Turns out the carrots the missus planted this year hadn’t performed too well.

GENTLY DOES IT So, if your lass is in a bad mood, why not ask her if she thinks losing a couple of pounds might help her feel better.

BEWARE When a woman laughs during an argument it’s the first sign that the psycho part of her brain has been engaged. So take a couple of steps back and check the nearest escape route.

CENTAUR "Hey, dude, I don’t have to brag. Because I literally am hung like a donkey.”

BLUE WHALE The vagina of the blue whale is apparently so large that five to six adult males can lie down in it, side by side. Making it the planet’s second biggest **** after Leo Sayer.

All jokes published are supplied by Edge readers. Please send your ‘egg yokes’ to shaun@theedgemag.co.uk


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And what a privilege it is for footie fans to have the likes of Pep and Klopp pitting their wits against each other week in, week out, in the English Premier League. Truly, we are blessed. Honestly, we’ve never had it so good - although granted Ferguson v Keegan ‘for one season only’ was particularly entertaining. Thing is though, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp get along. They like each other. They respect each other. And I don’t know about you, but The Edge really likes that. It’s how it should be if you’re both out to play good football, and surely no-one’s got anything to complain about on that particular score. Only get this (although you’re probably aware), since the start of the 2018-19 season to the present day, which is four long, arduous seasons, just one single point separates the two clubs. One point. That is obscene. This season though, City were 14 points ahead of Liverpool in January and seemingly had the title ‘in the bag’ (again), yet just a solitary point separated these two great clubs at the end of a truly incredible campaign that pretty much went to the wire. It went to the very last day, although City were the undeniable

favourites, yet what an upset seemed to be on the cards when Aston Villa took a two goal lead at The Etihad and City looked as though they were about to throw it all away. Meanwhile, down at the other end, on the final Sunday it was fantastic to see Burnley and Leeds United still with everything to play for, where only one club could survive and be victorious. On the managerial front, 10 Premier League bosses all lost their jobs this season. Jeez, that’s 50% of ’em. Sure, they get paid well, but OMG, what a precarious, unforgiving profession. So, let me remind you of the rules of The Edge’s Footie Prediction Stakes competition. Basically, you have to guess where each Premier League club is going to finish, who’s going to end up with the ‘Golden Boot’, and which Premier League manager is going to be the first to get the old ‘tic tac’. What’s more, you have to do all of this before a ball has been kicked as all entries must be received (by moi) before 3:00pm on the opening Saturday of the brand new season. Any readers interested in having a stab at it prior to next season, kindly let me know. There’s no money involved, it’s all just for fun. Oh and for a bit of kudos, of course!

WORTH A MENTION D’Arcy, your lordship, you smashed it. Way to go. Plus you were the only one to collect maximum points (10) from the golden boot/sacked manager. Delaney, you were the only one of us to get Brighton’s position spot on (5 points). Indeed, ‘Polak Jan’ was the only other person to get anything from Brighton and he had them to finish 13th, so got 1 point for that. Funbus, you know your football and no-one, unsurprisingly, had Wolves to finish any higher than you (9th) for which you received a single point. Ozzie Burrows, unlucky. The only one of us to predict the ‘top 3’ correctly. Deaks, what were you thinking predicting Brentford and Brighton to both go down? Other than that, 50 points is a solid score. Henry Lewi, no-one had Liverpool to finish lower than your fifth. William Hinkleberry, you and I were so very close, but you just ‘edged’ it by the narrowest of margins (you were the only one to predict Newcastle spot on, while I stupidly went for Danny Ings to win the golden boot). Martin ‘Scouser’ Jones, going for Lukaku (golden boot) and Vieira (first manager to be sacked) was your downfall, as no points for either. Kevin Page, you were never going to be in with a shout predicting the likes of Norwich to finish 14th, were you, FFS? Mase, you got ‘nil pwa’ for Villa, Everton, Leeds, Burnley, Brighton, Wolves, Brentford and Bruno Lage. Must do better. Up the O’s! James, I admired you having Leeds to finish a lofty sixth, as so did I, but sadly that never helped either of us! Jan, dear oh dear, sunbeam. Better luck next season. Irons are massive! Paddy, owner of Jamaica Blue, but finishing up with the ‘wooden spoon’ and failing to score any points with half of your Premiership placings, with a further ‘nil pwa’ for Lukaku and Hasenhuttl. Shocking! *No-one scored any points on Everton; we all had them to finish mid-table. www.theedgemag.co.uk

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So here we are. We’re a broken country with failing services, lack of manpower to fill the necessary jobs, rising taxation, a failing economy and the population exhausted as it recovers from a pandemic. Yes, England, as usual, is at odds with the rest of Europe, while Scotland is once again trying to throw off the yoke of English rule. Sound familiar? This was England in the mid 15th century. After the cessation of the Hundred Years’ War and Black Death, England very quickly threw itself into a painful internecine war that we called the War of the Roses - and things didn’t get any better for a couple of hundred years until Great Britain’s economy was stabilised under the joint reign of William and Mary, followed by Queen Anne. And this is precisely what we may be facing again; a long, long bleak period of failing economy, rising taxation and, most likely, civil unrest, though the modern equivalent will likely be multiple strikes of essential service workers.

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And still taxes will rise, money will be scarce and manpower shortages will become severe. So welcome to a second round of the Medieval Ages, though this time it is taking place in the 21st Century. It’s difficult to comprehend, but there’s no single cause or person we can blame - okay, so Russian are near the top of the leader board, but nobody could have foreseen the Covid19 pandemic, or the war in Ukraine, but throughout history the two have often gone hand in hand; look at the Athenian Plague during the Peloponnesian war in the 5th Century BC, or the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919 during the final year of the First World War and, as already mentioned, the Black Death during the Hundred Years’ War. So, should our politicians or those in the US and Europe have been aware of a major potential conflict occurring either during or just as the Pandemic was petering out? I doubt it, as in Europe (and I include the UK) and the US we were totally focused on the healthcare issues with massive amounts of funding being ploughed into the treatment and management of Covid19, which in the UK’s case effectively bankrupted the country. As a result, we are now experiencing 14 hour waits in A&E, there are 6.5 million patients on waiting lists, critical Page 24

understaffing in our hospitals and a total lack of General Practitioners. So how are we going to solve this? Quite simply, we CAN’T and we WON’T! When the NHS first began in 1948 there was an immediate hospital waiting list of 500,000 people and over the subsequent 70 years this has now grown to 6.5million, despite hospital medical staff rising tenfold, consultant staff rising by a factor of 16x and nursing numbers rising from just under 70,000 to peaking at a 1/3rd of a million. The rise in waiting list numbers is not just about the ageing population - I do so wish the government would stop throwing that phrase around as a cause for the rise in waiting lists - it’s also about the numerous treatments that are now available. In 1949 there was no cardiac surgery, hip replacements were still on the horizon, while prostate surgery was a rarity, yet still there was a waiting list. So, the surgical waiting list is going to be an impossible mountain to climb, while other waiting lists - such as patients waiting for X-rays and other diagnostic tests - can be tackled by using scanners or blood testing personnel and siting them in both supermarket and leisure centre car parks; AI algorithms allow for quick and accurate interpretation of the results the bottleneck is always going to be instituting treatment. We could accelerate the numbers of doctors being trained; it is feasible to reduce medical school training from 5 years down to 3, but even the critical postgraduate training which turns a medical graduate into a fully competent specialist still takes 5-7 years, so at best we’ll still have to wait at least 10 years to increase and improve our medical staffing. Successive governments have had over 70 years to shape the NHS, but none have ever been brave enough to do it. Shame. The Edge 01245 348256


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With the excitement and fanfare of the Platinum celebrations are now behind us, the grand preparations and decorations are all gone, but there is no need to despair, writes Jackie Williams, as there are weeks of long summer days ahead of us. Sunshine-on-tap, trips to the beach, not to mention Sunday afternoon barbeques. All good fun and excellent entertainment. Until we reach the sting in the tale... Which is the delight that plagues all outdoor events; our every summer's scourge. Yes, you guessed it. Vespula Vulgaris, commonly known as the wasp. Now, I'm no entomologist. The humble wasp must have a higher purpose in life than to upset our well deserved warm weekends. But when you have gone to all the trouble and expense of organising an outdoor event, preparing vast quantities of food, decanted wine and chilled beer amid the fickleness of our weather, they are nothing but a blasted nuisance. And as if the wasp itself wasn't enough to cope with, there are the various ways that guests insist on getting rid of them. The charcoal is very often barely alight before the invaders make their first play. Kindly Cousin Bob, while staring closely at three of the black and yellow devils that have already descended into his glass of cider, immediately announces that they are fascinating creatures. “Leave them alone,” he declares, jovially. “They will soon fly off of their own accord.” But they don't. They become drunk on the cider; meanwhile Cousin Bob dies of thirst. And when he has finally had enough of waiting for them to buzz off and scoops them out of his glass with a spoon, they immediately zoom down the garden, one heading straight under the armpit of little Annie, who is innocently keeping Auntie Sophie entertained with her recently learned cartwheels. Only after half-an-hour of endless screaming, buckets of tears and eventual promises of trips to Disneyland can everyone return to their meal. But by this time, Uncle Steve has become involved. Six of the feisty fiends have returned to the table and, shock horror, his precious pint is at risk. A quick swipe is clearly in order. It's just a pity that the beer glass takes the brunt of the backhander and tips over, soaking everything in its wake. Little Annie immediately screams blue murder as the stripy stingers whiz back her way, while Auntie Sophie berates her husband loudly, and the valiant hostess tries to keep everyone calm while she clears up all of the ensuing mess. Too late. Grandpa has had an idea. Why not put the beer soaked cleaning cloths down at the end of the garden, thus encouraging the irritating insects to head in that direction, and hopefully stay there. Brilliant! Problem solved. Not. Those vile vespulas have an excellent trick hidden somewhere in their wings. Pheromones, or the waspy equivalent. They send out signals to call their buddies to the party and just as all the food on the barbeque is cooked and everyone begins to load up their plates, 20 more humming hymenoptera are suddenly dive-bombing the dinner.

ANDREW ELEY

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One of the frustrations of having to meet a print deadline is that a film is often released just after that deadline has passed, so it wouldn’t appear as a review until either it's no longer showing or everyone has already seen it. Judging by the current box office takings, I’m sure most people will have seen Top Gun: Maverick by the time the July editions of The Edge are out. But hey, it’s such a big release that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about it. So get ready to polish your helmets and strap in hard, as it’s time to pull some serious G’s. After some 30-plus years, Tom Cruise’s Maverick character is still doing what he loves best and satisfying his ‘need for speed’ as a test pilot for the US military. In a spectacular and truly thrilling opening, Maverick goes against orders and takes a multi-million dollar supersonic jet out for a spin, before trashing it after pushing both himself and the jet too hard. Instead of receiving his P45 for such a gross breach of misconduct, Maverick is sent to train a bunch of ‘top gunners’ to fly a dangerous top secret mission behind enemy lines. This mission involves swooping into a canyon and dropping a bomb onto a small target, followed by a strike missile, before flying out again and hopefully avoiding enemy fire, all in the hope of destroying a uranium plant. If that sounds familiar, well, it’s basically the same mission as in Star Wars when they try and take out the Death Star.

Which is when the afternoon becomes really interesting. Grandma, who has been sitting quietly minding her own business, as well as sneaking all the crisps, suddenly pipes up that she has a failsafe method for eradicating the enemy. She heads into the house to reappear a few minutes later with a tea-towel, wrapped Rambo-style about her head, and a brûlée burner in hand, and promptly springs into action, tottering full pelt into the swarm, shooting foot long flames and shouting “DIE, YOU F *** ERS!!!” Which not only looks extremely cool but elicits wild cheers from all of the guests, yet only causes the growing cloud of pointy arsedz pests to become a tad annoyed and increase their efforts to spoil your afternoon.

So the plot is simple, but it needs to be, as the focus is all about the literally breathtaking aerial combat scenes that take place on screen, which is where Top Gun: Maverick truly delivers.

Whereupon Cousin Bob, once again, advocates leaving them alone. They will fly off soon. After which everyone groans loudly, picks up their plates, and trudges off to eat in the dining-room.

With very little in the way of CGI, the film is ground-breaking in its aerial photography, the actors gamely being

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put through their paces as they are being filmed in real flight. Imagine trying to act whilst also being hurled around at breakneck speed? Yet all the in-cockpit shots are real; there is no blue-screen here and it’s all the better for it, offering a real weight and gravity to the on-screen action. I actually went to see it in 4DX, where the seats move to the action and you get other interactive effects, such as wind and rain. At times I was so enthralled by the action that I completely forget where I was and had a big cheesy grin plastered all over my face, because that’s what true escapism is really all about. Action aside, the film has a surprising emotional weight behind it. There’s a tense relationship between Maverick and rookie pilot Rooster, whose old man was Goose in the original Top Gun and now holds a grudge against his new tutor, not least because his dad's, ahem, ‘goose got cooked’ whilst flying with ‘Our Tom’. Val Kilmer makes a return as Iceman in a scene that had the cinema completely silent, such was its power. It’s a scene that could have gone very wrong, but is handled with warmth and poignancy. Then there’s the stirring speeches throughout that make you want to whoop, holler and clap as our heroes embark on their do or die mission. Which makes Top Gun: Maverick such a magnificent film and one that feels like it could be the last bastion of true Hollywood greatness. With so many studios churning out the same tired CGI-heavy franchises, laden with liberal messages and trumping their own self importance, it’s so refreshing to see a movie that simply wants to have fun. Early on in the film, Admiral ‘Hammer’ Cain (Ed Harris) says to Maverick that “the end is inevitable”; that his kind are heading for extinction. It felt like he was talking about these very types of movies; star driven blockbusters that just want to entertain their audience. “Maybe so, sir,” says Maverick in return. “But not today.” Do yourselves a favour and go see it, support it, and shout and wail about it from the rooftops, because we need Hollywood to listen! (Oh and this is also something you really MUST see on a big screen.)

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Holy Matrimony, Batman!

KiNGPiN

By the time this goes to print it’ll be less than a month to go before I get married. For once in my life (and admittedly mainly because my fiancé is the queen of organisation) I’m sitting here now with but 6 weeks to go and everything is pretty much done’n’dusted.

The Kingmeister reports

Which is not to say we don’t have a few jobs left to do, and I’m sure the final week will still be a whirlwind of “Have we done that? You’re sure? Check it again!” and money flying out of our account at the speed of light. But I think we’re finally at the point where we’re both starting to get properly excited and nervous now. Of course, we’ve been excited ever since we got engaged, but with so much to plan and get done on top of all the other stuff we’ve got going on (not to mention the pandemic and moving house in the middle of it all) it feels like our backsides haven’t touched the ground for a year or two, and I think we’ve just been too busy to really start enjoying it. I am a little nervous, but mainly about tripping over in front of everyone or fluffing my lines during the ceremony. Then again, I know I’ve got the easy speech and I’ve got 3 best-man speeches under my belt already, so this one should be a walk in the park. Even I can manage thanking everyone and saying the bridesmaids didn’t scrub up too bad. I’m not nervous about marrying Lou at all. As clichéd as it may sound, she really is my best friend, and I’m looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together, just as the past 7 years have been the best I’ve ever had. I’m also looking forward to wearing my wedding ring as I’ve got a really cool one made from titanium and oak from a 100-year-old whisky barrel. Another thing I’m completely happy with is our choice of venue at Lion House and our wedding planner, Georgina. She’s been 110% on the ball with everything, even down to the specific drinks we’d like after the ceremony when they take us away to have 20 minutes on our own to let it all sink in. I won’t say our wedding has been cheap, but we’ve paid for not having to do anything on the day apart from turn up, get married and enjoy ourselves, and to my mind you can’t put a price on that. You also can’t put a price on having all of your friends and family together for the day, marrying the woman you love and then having a few beers and making a complete and utter tit of yourself on the dancefloor. I’ve always loved a good wedding and at 47 years of age I’m still a bit surprised that the next one I’m going to is actually my own! One of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced so far was buying my outfit. All I needed was a navy pair of trousers and a waistcoat to match, but due to the ongoing supply and shipping issues for pretty much everything, it was a struggle even getting those. It’s always helpful when you order a 40” regular and they decide what you really wanted was a 38” slim that you can’t even button up. Twice. Still, that’s all done now and all I have to do is not put on too many pounds between now and the big day. The day after the wedding is a totally different matter, of course, and I plan to spend the day mainly eating pizza and cakes. Oddly enough, I was a lot more nervous about the stag weekend than I was about my wedding...

Enter The Stag The reason I was nervous was because I rarely drink these days. I still enjoy a beer or two, but I literally go months between having a pint now, and when I say a beer or two, that’s exactly what I mean. Beer number 1 is glorious, number 2 is enjoyable, but then I never really fancy number 3 anymore. So, as much as I was really looking forward to my stag, the thought of a 12 hour bender in London was making me a little apprehensive, as I’m fairly certain it’s bad form to go home after 2 beers when the stag’s in your honour. You could tell straight away this was a stag-do of blokes in their late 40’s, as opposed to their late 20’s and early 30’s, like the ones we used to go on. Nobody wanted a weekend away anywhere, or even getting a room in London, as the thought of that Sunday crawl home feeling like 10 miles of rough road was just too much to bear these days. It was also telling that there were only 8 of us, compared to the 20+ affairs we all used to go to. It may sound boring to some, but all I wanted to do was get all my best mates together for the day. I wasn’t bothered about doing loads of activities or going anywhere outrageous. I simply wanted to spend the day with my mates in a few good pubs and that’s pretty much exactly what we did. Of course, there were some stag traditions being followed as they made me dress up a bit. What I mean by that is the ‘best men’ (my brother, Chris, and my friend, Giles) went to a Republican website and ordered some Trump 2024 merchandise and made me wear it. It was a cracking, sunny day in London and I thought I looked moderately dapper in my shorts and Hawaiian shirt (I love a Hawaiian shirt these days), but the lads thought I looked much better resplendent in a bright red ‘Keep America Great’ cap and a lovely “F *** Joe Biden -Trump 2024!” wrist band. This was finished off by a big rainbow badge proudly informing the world that I really loved doing certain things with my bottom (which, coupled with the Trump attire, must have confused people). I actually felt a little uncomfortable with it, especially when seeing anyone of a different ethnicity, but I thought I was just being a bit paranoid until a couple of the other lads said they’d noticed all the dirty looks I was getting, so they let me take the Trump gear off. I had to keep the badge on though, but

nobody batted an eyelid at that. So, the moral of the story there is that people seem to prefer bottom related activities to Donald Trump, which I think is perfectly reasonable.

We started off at a pub near Victoria station and had a few beers while some of us got reacquainted. We realised that some of the lads hadn’t seen each other for 17 years, since the weekend of my infamous 30th birthday in Tallin, Estonia. As the beers went down, the stories started coming out, including a few I’d genuinely forgotten (or possibly blanked out) and I have to admit that my 30th was probably the most dreadfully behaved I’ve been in my entire life. Good lord, that was such a brilliant weekend!

After that we went to ‘Flight Club’, that bar where you play all the different darts games and it was really good. We had a little booth with a dart board at the end and you selected different games from the console, such as ‘Killer’ and the like, and then just drank beer and had a laugh. Giles, bless him, laid on lunch for everyone there as well and I’ve decided I like places where I can push a button and 5 minutes later food and drink magically appears. Most surprisingly it turned out that I was quite good with the ‘arrows’ as I ended up joint 2nd overall and even pulled off a couple of shots that were worthy of the instant replay cameras. After ‘Flight Club’ we headed off to another pub and then attempted to grab one of the Thames Clippers down to London Bridge. If I’m in London I always love getting on the clipper, so I was particularly looking forward to that bit. If you haven’t been on them in a while (like me) you may be surprised to learn that they’re now called ‘Uber Boats’ after going into partnership with Uber. It could be a complete coincidence, of course, but the last time I went on one it was just the Thames Clipper and it was great. You could walk on, buy a ticket from a conductor on the boat and that was it. Whereas now it’s utter shite. After spending 10 minutes in a huge queue trying to figure out which of the 4 different ticket machines or what app we needed to use, we decided we’d rather walk along the river. Bloody good job, Uber. That said, it was a lovely, sunny day for a walk and the upside was we could squeeze in a couple more pubs along the way. By the time we got to Blackfriars Bridge I think I was about 8 pints down and still feeling remarkably chipper, so I let my brother, who has been leading me astray for the past 40+ years, talk me into having a couple of pints of Old Rosie (strong cider). Admittedly I thoroughly enjoyed them, but they pretty much finished me off on the drinking front, so by the time we got to the Rake in Borough Market I was on the water. We finished the night off with a really good curry, where every dish we ordered was both very tasty and very hot. You know how in some restaurants they mark on the menu which dishes are hot? Not this place. They didn’t need to as everything on the menu was like eating the centre of the sun. I made it home just after midnight, had a cup of tea and then slept on the sofa with the dog to save Lou having to listen to me snoring. I had a really good day out and I didn’t even feel that rough the next morning, so all in all, my stag-do was pretty much spot on. Of course, the fact that the lads refused to let me pay for anything all day long probably helped too!


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Max Headroom’s

BIZARRE NEWS

2022 will probably be the last year of The Edge, so let’s truly celebrate fogeyism by all you 65+ readers sending in your snaps, as this could be your last chance to appear in the local equivalent of Playboy magazine. And the more interesting the photograph, the better, so do try to use a little imagination as The Edge is anxious to see all of you FOGEY’S IN ACTION!

Parents are warned to keep their car keys away from easy access by burglars, but perhaps they should also be taking a little more notice of the people already inside their house? That’s the lesson one mum has learned after her son helped himself to her car keys and took it out for a spin. The unnamed four-year-old managed to unlock the vehicle, get inside and put it through its paces, all while wearing his pyjamas (not dissimilar to some of the clown’s suits Lewis Hamilton turns up to F1 race days wearing). Trouble is, the ickle mite hasn’t quite passed his test yet, so crashed into two parked cars in Utrecht, Netherlands, like his compatriot Max Verstappen is prone to doing. Alarmed, he then left the vehicle and wandered off in his bare feet, where he was later spotted by a concerned neighbour who called the police. Officers picked him up and took him to the police station, where they gave him a hot chocolate and a teddy bear, while they checked to see if he was (mentally) as right as rain, before trying to find out who his parents were. They soon joined the dots after quickly receiving a report of an abandoned crashed car, which was registered to his mother (hey, great work, Columbo). A police Instagram post detailed how, while on the phone to his mum, the young lad had ‘gestured a collision with his hands and made a steering wheel movement’. “This gave us the suspicion that the child might have been the driver of the crashed car,” said Police Constable Einstein. “So we escorted him to the scene and asked him whether he could show us how the car worked? “He immediately opened the car with the key, climbed in, started the car, moved his left foot to the clutch before putting it into gear and we stopped him just before he hit the gas. So what appears to have happened is when the child’s father left for work, the boy woke up, grabbed his mum’s car keys and immediately went after his dad.” Luckily, the police saw the funny side, dubbing the four-year-old the ‘next Max Verstappen’, though hopefully minus a face full of teeth.

shaun@theedgemag.co.uk

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MOTCO

Man on the Clapham Omnibus

FLATUS I am asked many times by friends et al how I manage to write on a topic that somebody else has asked me to pontificate on. “It’s easy,” I reply, because one of the joys of writing for The Edge is that we choose what we want to write about each month. Sure, there are the occasional challenges about the use of EE’s pen on one’s work before print, but that’s it. Of course, there are the well documented rules around the use of the ‘C’ word (we are halfway through the year, so you can start picking up those interesting little gifts now, readers!) but that’s pretty much it. So one can imagine my surprise when I received a missive from EE requesting that I could perhaps tackle a particular subject for him this month. Hmmmm, most unusual. Obviously this was a matter that required a degree of sympathetic journalism and both a tactful, delicate approach. I think, ahh yes, I can see why EE has chosen me. Then I see the subject matter. Now we all know that the Silver Surfer is a medical man - he has even operated on one of my family in the past, so I know for sure. He will clearly already know what this month’s missive is about by the title alone, as I have used the medical term, but it’s not much of a disguise as words go in reality. Yes, after an Edge career of many years standing, covering some critical topics, we are going to talk about farting. Of course, farting may be a critical decision one has to make in some circumstances, as we all know, or may have learned to our cost. So yes, it’s time to get sniggering, because I have mentioned farting three times already. But if you are going to keep it up, then go to the back of the class and do it quietly. And I mean the sniggering bit, but maybe the farting bit too. Flatus. This next paragraph is lifted straight from t’internet, as we like to inform as well as entertain here at The Edge. ‘What is Flatus (intestinal gas)? Flatus is mostly produced as a by-product of bacterial fermentation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, especially the colon. Over 99% of the volume of flatus is composed of odourless gases.’ If you’re being entirely honest with yourselves, I would like to imagine that most of you are already vigorously challenging that last sentence of said gas being odourless. Anyway, that’s the informative Mr Cholmondeley-Warner section over - and by the way, that name is this month’s ‘look up’ item for younger readers. So now let’s get on with the lighter side of the topic. It’s not just inky schoolboys with their cries of “you smelt it, you dealt it” or groups of hungover blokes taking pride in their gassy output who take enjoyment from the act. We have learned, in modern times, with the general relaxing of standards, that women actually do it too. Oh yes, I notice articles in women’s magazines with titles such as: ‘When is an acceptable time to fart with my new partner?’ while older female readers will tell you that, in times gone by, it would be at least thirty years into a relationship before your other-half even knew you did such a thing. Whereas I myself am nearly forty years in and I simply cannot confirm this one way or the other.

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The fart has also been a staple of the entertainment world for longer than you might imagine. History records on the ability to ‘fart at will’ is observed

as early as Saint Augustine's The City of God (5th century A.D.). Augustine mentions men who "have such command of their bowels that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing." One could imagine classics such as Elton John’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Farting’ or Harry Styles’ current hit ‘Late Night Farting’. Perhaps one of the most famous professional ‘guffers’ was a French chappie, Le Pétomane (‘The Fartomaniac’). Said homme was in high demand in the 19th century and held a residency at The Moulin Rouge, no less. Some of the highlights of his stage act involved sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing ‘O Sole Mio’ and ‘La Marseillaise’ on an ocarina through a rubber tube inserted into his bottom. You may well find that a bit too much to take, but it was apparently impressive. And let’s face it, it certainly upstages your dad’s “pull my finger” routine, doesn’t it? He, like many professional farters before him, did flatulence impressions and held shows, and the tradition carries on today. Indeed, the performer Mr. Methane is the modern version of Le Pétomane. Also, a 2002 fiction film Thunderpants revolves around a boy named Patrick Smash who has an ongoing flatulence problem from the time of his birth. If one is struggling for an idea, revert to the fart for guaranteed entertainment. It is not uncommon for subjects to have their own language and terminology around them. Bodily functions and actions most certainly do. Think of the whole different world of terminology one enters when talking about sex (“Woah, fella. This is a family mag. Well, at least we try to be. Signed, EE”). Farting is no exception. There is a lexicon that crosses the generations. In baby days we talk of ‘blowing off’ or ‘popping off’ or ‘trumping’. In schoolboy years we get into ‘guffing’, as in ‘who’s guffed?’ and ‘arse rippers’ for the more enthusiastic amateur starting out in anal acoustics.Whereas in adult life, men full of ale will take pride in delivering an ‘air biscuit’ and even more pride when all their mates are convulsed in laughter whilst heaving at the smell. It’s a bloke thing, sorry. A favourite term of mine was told to me by my son, which is ‘crop dusting’. This refers to an almost predator type action; a person who walks through a crowd, office etc. whilst farting quietly, before exiting the scene and leaving the output to be dealt with by all and sundry. I think it’s a great term and explains the scenario perfectly. The Americans will go for ‘steam pressing the Calvins’ and one for the ladies is a ‘knicker ripper’. But we all know ladies simply don’t do that type of thing. That said, science tells us that women actually fart more than men. Maybe its about quality and the blokes have it there (see air biscuit, above). Whilst having been around a fair few hen parties after 15 bottles of prosecco have been consumed in my time, I’d venture that modern ladies can certainly give as good as the blokes. So who knows? As every schoolboy of a certain age will tell you, farts can be flammable. This they have learned from true experimentation. Upon release, farts can travel about 10 feet per second, or approximately 6.8 miles per hour. That’s pretty good going. We all know that a cocktail maker is called a mixologist, but did you know a scientist who studies flatulence is called a flatologist? This has truly been a meaty (another farting term) subject to be objective about (“Oh no, it hasn’t. Signed EE”), but I have tried, as always, to be entertaining and informative about the humble Tommy Chuffter. Which is a lie, really, and we all know it. But despite all the terminology, a fart can be described very well with this small poem taught to me as a young lad by the old sage known as ‘Bermondsey Bruce’. A fart is a small explosion, It comes from the beauty of bum, It comes down your left trouser leg, And out with a musical hum.

shaun@theedgemag.co.uk

Yours aye,

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line, “Say hello to the boys for me,” to which Violet would reply, “I’m seeing Ronnie and Reggie this weekend, so I will tell them how kind you have been.” The stallholder would then puff themselves up with importance that they had somehow ingratiated themselves in with ‘The Twins’ and now had their friendship. Yet the truth of it was that Violet probably never even mentioned it to her boys at all. Wherever she went in the High Street, a new coat, shoes, handbag, joint of meat would always be pressed into her hands.

It seems that a heck of a lot of you wonderful Edge readers out there love reminiscing with me. My last two columns have had a huge impact on some of you and brought back happy memories and it has been a real pleasure to receive some fantastic emails. There are clearly a lot of readers with East End roots in Chelmsford. I love my East End roots and family that stretched from the Mile End Road in Bethnal Green to Walthamstow (long before it was trendy and rebranded Waltham Forest). One of the questions I get asked quite frequently when people realise I grew up in the East End is, “Did know the Krays?” People are still fascinated by the Kray Twins and even this week their latest movies are trending on Netflix. Their legend just never seems to dwindle. So in answer to the question, I knew Charlie Kray, the Kray’s older brother, very well throughout my childhood, until he died in 2000. I also knew Violet Kray, the twin’s mother, as she used to come into the sweet shop I worked in as a Saturday girl and I would see her out and about all the time. However, ‘The Twins’ were locked up in 1968, the year before I was born. But the East End is full of tales of their exploits, although in reality they only ‘ruled’ East London for 7 years with even some of that time spent in prison. Whilst they lived their lives in the East End, they only shot to real prominence by fear from 1959 and they were jailed in 1968 by Justice Melford Stevenson, who said: “The public have had quite enough of you two and deserve a rest from your antics,” before sentencing them both to 30 years at the end of a 39 day trial (the longest criminal trial ever at the time, at a cost of £150k with £4,000 for the jurors’ expenses). I remember Violet Kray vividly as I walked down the High Street with my Nan. You always knew when Violet was around as she would have an entourage and she was treated like a celebrity. Whatever stall Violet stopped to look at, the stall holder would rush to give her his undivided attention. She only had to look at a piece of fruit and a brown paper bag would hastily appear and be stuffed to the brim and pushed into her hands with the famous Page 30

My Saturday job in the sweet shop used to involve me delivering Mrs. Kray’s sweet order for the weekend up to the Chequers pub in Walthamstow. I would lug the box up there at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and call out for someone to tell Mrs.Kray I was there, as children weren’t allowed in pubs. If Charlie Kray was there, he would always come out and usher me inside - no one was going to argue with him - and he would give me a lemonade and a bag of crisps and count the pound notes out of his wallet to pay for the sweets. He would always give me 50p - a small fortune back then - as a tip, with the words “keep it to yourself” with a tap of his nose. He was a loveable rogue, was Charlie, with his long flowing blonde hair and medallion, not to mention a permanent suntan who used to flirt with the old ladies and press a few quid into their hands. But he lived in the shadow of his brothers’ reputation all his life and it became his sad downfall. If Mrs. Kray was there, she would always send someone else out to get the order and would totally ignore me and never once tipped me. One Christmas I had to deliver a particularly big order and was told, “Don’t come back without the money.” Someone came out to get it and no money was forthcoming, so I called out to the barman to let her know the amount and that I was waiting. She came to the door with a look that could turn you to stone and shooed me away. When I got back to the sweet shop I got a good telling off, which was rather unfair as I was only 11 years old and none of the grown-ups would dare go up and confront her.

If you’d told me a few years ago that my main holiday of the year would be 4 nights/5 days in North Norfolk during the summer of 2022, I’d have probably cried. Yet here we are and I am honestly so, so looking forward to it and intent on making every single minute count - but I’ll already have experienced it by the time I start getting these July issue out as of Saturday 2nd July (the day of my 61st blinkin’ burpday, gulp!). Just 4 nights is costing us £521 in a little one-bed cottage not a million mile away from Wells-next-the-Sea, an area of North Norfolk I’ve become curious about ever since listening to some of Edge columnist Motco’s tales about the “big beaches and even bigger skies”. Mute point; why do AirBnB places advertise themselves for £99 per night and then when you come to the ‘pay with debit/credit card’ stage, it’s gone up by £125 for cleaning? We’re taking our pushbikes as Norfolk’s pretty flat, right? And there’s but one pub in the village we’re staying in, yet it sells Old Speckled Hen on draught, my favourite tipple. How about that? (Sadly, no Moretti on draught for the missus though.) I’d have been happy camping, but Mrs Edge appears to be getting to the end of her tether with all of that malarkey, particularly after our last ‘disaster trip’ to Polzeath, Cornwall, at the tail end of September 2021, which granted was at the very end of the season. Just ourselves and about 3 other tents were forced to endure lashing rain and force-10 gails which had us up for 3 hours during the night attempting to stop our tent from blowing away, so granted it wasn’t much fun. Therefore I’m pretty sure we deserve this ‘little extravagance’, plus it’s both of our birthdays and our 21st wedding anniversary, all within a couple of days of each other. Hey, and if we can experience a sunset anywhere near as good as the one above, so much the better. Here’s hoping.

But the myth and the legend of the boys lived on in the East End and grew even stronger once they were locked up. People still handed over their weekly protection money and the mere mention of falling into their bad books was enough to put the fear of God into most people. Was the East End truly safer back then? Sadly, not. The myth and the legend that you could leave your door open and be safe was simply not true. If you research the ’papers and look at the true crime statistics, burglaries and crime was even more violent and common than it is today. The Twins were a phenomenon, the likes of which had never been seen before and probably never will be again. Everyone knows someone who met the Krays in the East End. But they were hard times and whilst I think it is important to look back, it is also important to look to the future and thankfully protection money for High Street businesses is a thing of the past. Have a great month, everyone..

tracie123@aol.com

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WHY NOT CONTACT A LOCAL TRADESMAN YOU’VE SEEN IN THE EDGE?

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204208 Print Acumen The Edge 32pp July(4606) 2022/06/23 22:28:07

Why not refurb your existing conservatory?

CLADDING

Approved Installers