We have jumped a little ahead of ourselves as I had achieved something of a promotion and a slightly improved patch. I moved back to the Bristol area, and as revealed above we lit upon Thornbury in Gloucestershire for our next home.
|ASIDE: The Google Earth image above shows the house as it was much later (not our cars) but do take note of the pavement and that large white drain cover. I was fitting a new bathroom myself and couldn’t find an internal stopcock so turned my attention to a very small grating on the pavement. I found it full of detritus that I cleared out, ending up lying on my side with my arm just able to reach the stopcock, but not able to apply enough effort to turn it. I popped to a local ironmonger and bought a long metal arm that bridged the tap. It was still resisting, so I gave it some ‘welly’ and was greeted with a fountain.|
I had turned it the wrong way and the tap-head came off. Everyone else in the road was just preparing Sunday lunch and my efforts had the water switched off to the neighbourhood. A guy eventually turned up with a jack-hammer and dug it out to gain access to the stop-cock, fitted a new tap and a new drain cover – that’s the white drain cover above!
Thornbury was then a small Gloucestershire market town, but it was growing as we got there. We can hardly recognise it today. The sprawl of Bristol has certainly expanded it hugely. Thornbury had another great Round Table, and even a follow-on group for the over forties named Thornbury Round Table Old Boys or THROBs.
|ASIDE: One of the Round Table members worked for BP and we did a remarkable money-raising event every Friday night throughout the summer. A service station on the A38 (the M5 did not yet exist) normally closed at night but allowed us to take it over from 8pm to 8am, giving us 1d for every gallon that we pumped. We also sold our own refreshments. It was a great fund-raiser and great for team spirit too. Anyone driving to the South West came past the garage. We’d get waves of Brummies, then Mancunians and we awarded a prize to our first Jock who usually turned up around 1am.|
The Round table guaranteed a great social time, lots of dinner parties, canasta sessions, Round Table functions, croquet afternoons, plus of course we were then living close enough to our families to attend family functions and get-togethers.
I even got the opportunity to play rugby against John Pullen, the then hooker for Bristol, England (42 caps) and Lions (7 appearances). He was a local farmer and trained with a bale of hay to develop his neck, which appeared to go straight from his shoulders to the back of his head. I played hooker for a minor combination rugby team, but was assisted by the referee in this charity match who delighted in blowing for John having feet-up in the scrums.
Jane’s Mini and Matt at Thornbury
|ASIDE: While living here the Round Table had a visit to a club in nearby Dursley, Glos. It advertised a topless barmaid and strippers so we declared we were a different Table to cover our tracks with the booking. On arrival we saw no topless barmaid and when someone asked about this, a beefy barmaid pulled her wide-necked T-shirt down below her boobs. We were sorry he’d asked.|
The club had a small cramped car park and all evening there were announcements asking customers to move cars and let people out. The MC made one such announcement and added that the driver waiting had no chance of getting out as the ‘Delightful, Delectable Delilah’ was just about to strip. When she emerged from behind the curtain she was not particularly engaging and some wag shouted out ‘I’ll move your car’. This was a new sort of club for the time, not at all PC today but those were Neanderthal times.
Another amusing interlude at Thornbury was being invited to debate with prisoners at nearby Leyhill Open Prison. This was a white-collar crime prison and its debating society had apparently beaten the Oxford University debating club. Our subject was The Magic Roundabout will bring about the fall of modern civilisation. They were to propose this.
Their opening gambit was that they first had to get permission to stay up late to watch it (17:50!) and they went on to suggest that this phantasmagorical programme was deliberately timed before the evening news to lull viewers into a quiescent state prior to hearing the horrors of the news. That was before they ridiculed Zebedee’s ‘Time for bed Florence’. They wiped the floor with us.
I sat beside a convicted accountant who had embezzled £300,000 (then a great deal of money). He boasted that he had hidden it and living for three years in prison with absolutely no overheads was a small price to pay.