THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Whilst away at Buxton, to our surprise, the portable hut that Bill Yeoman had secured from the council had been delivered and put in position alongside the bowling green. This 36 feet by 12 feet structure, resembling a broken down hen house seemed to raise little cheer to those that saw it. Few could only just imagine that this would ever be converted into a bowls club pavilion. One of those that could, was myself. In my minds eye, I imagined that with suitable windows and a veranda, as well as the necessary effort and suitable skills, we could match the cricket pavilion at Lords. That, perhaps, was stretching the imagination a little too far, but nevertheless a future pavilion could be achieved to provide shelter to entertain our visiting teams.
The bowls club engaged the services of the National Association Care and Resettlement of ex-Offenders, NACRO, to undertake the preliminary refurbishing of the shell of the wooden structure. The steel frame-work upon which the hut was mounted was in good condition, for it enabled the hut to be transported to the bowls green. This work continued until the start of the bowling season. At that time, it seemed that anyone who was keen to help, just went along and did something.
The club had no money, so everything was done on a do-it-yourself basis. My first effort was to transport brick rubble from a house that had been demolished close by in Bidbury Lane. This meant that my sickly green Allegro was doing the work of a lorry and was not very happy about it, as far as the suspension was concerned. The bricks were to be used to fill in a dip in front of the entrance into this structure from the green.
Whilst I was tipping rubble into this hollow, during a roll-up period on the green, I noticed that Daphne Paine had stopped play to talk to Tony, her husband. They both looked in my direction, and came to join me. They told me that they were prepared to purchase the materials themselves and organise a working party to construct the base for the patio to the future pavilion.
From this conversation, a new friendship was developed and a great respect for both of them. I did not know then that Daphnes father was a master builder and that Tony had acquired many of his skills. Both had organising ability, for Daphne was in charge of a large clerical staff in the Dockyard, and Tony was also involved with finance in the dockyard, and was used to working with computers. Their kitchen had been converted to what could be described as a business centre for voluntary bodies, as I found out later.
George Hall, another member, appeared on the scene, who was the vice-president, and who I knew when at the Civil Service Club, prior to Bedhampton Club being formed. On his own, he virtually constructed a kitchen unit for the south end of this building. Much of his work was done behind the scenes at home. He also constructed a partition with an entrance door to the kitchen, and provided a serving hatch.
All this took shape without a master drawing at that time. Eric Googe, the club captain, became noted for his painting and using his thingum-myjig. He also played a part in ensuring the contractors repitched the roof to be weatherproof.
My main role came later in the design and erection of the veranda, where separate teams worked together to produce a structure that was later to be found not wanting after the great storm in 1987. The task that gave me the greatest satisfaction was the laying of the paving slabs, that made up the patio. Here, with the help of Jim Hammond, who obtained the gravel as a base for the flags and rolled the scree to match preset level references, so accurate that no slab had to be readjusted once it had been placed on rolled gravel. This could not have been achieved without Tony Paine providing a reference edge along the pavilion at the time he worked on the causeway into the pavilion entrance. Another fine piece of teamwork.
The ladies made their contribution to this project by fitting curtains, some of which Ella would claim had been at our house at the beginning of their lives, as was our kitchen sink that found itself in the kitchen of the pavilion. Work proceeded through winter months, whilst snow was on the ground and it was given an official opening on completion.
Later, when I became official co-ordinator, as Chairman of the Amenities Committee, a citation was submitted by me to the Management Committee, naming all those that had contributed to the overall pavilion project. Here is a copy of this citation:-
The Chairman, Bedhampton Bowling Club
As co-ordinator of the main working party, I have now to report to your committee that the task of converting the Portakabin into a Pavilion with veranda, outside benches and patio, has been completed.
I feel it would be remiss of me if I failed to highlight the individuals who made up the working party. There is no doubt that the completion of this assigned task would not have been accomplished without the dedication and skill of these members.
Firstly, it must be remembered that before I was asked to take on the role of co-ordinator in the Autumn of 1986, much work had already been achieved from the time the building was transported to the Bedhampton bowling green site in January 1986.
NACRO were given the initial task to make structural changes, such as repositioning the door entrance, enlarging window apertures and relining the walls and ceiling. The leaking roof was contracted out for repair. Eric Googe was asked by the committee to liaise and oversee all this work, a task he carried out with much diligence.
Shortly after the 1986 playing season started, the late George Hall carried on the refurbishing task, after the cessation of work by NACRO, (did we ever thank them?). Most of the summer season witnessed George working on the Pavilion, undertaking the relaying of the floor, installing the kitchen partition with hatch and door, fitting the sink unit and making and fitting cupboards. This work, together with other projects such as fitting window shutters, will always be regarded as George Halls contribution to the overall task. Again, Eric Googe was much involved with the painting of all items. Allied to this work was electric wiring, plumbing and glazing carried out by contractors obtained by Maurice Underhay; the cost of which was far below that of all other estimates received.
During early spring 1986, Tony Paine saw, with horror, yours truly building a pathway into the Pavilion using rubble collected from a local building site. There was no money to buy building material at the time. He came off the green and said he would buy the necessary material and construct the path himself. Whereupon emerged the stonemason and his two aides, John Stevenson and Bob Symes. This trio set about the Pavilion path and, later, the fire door steps to the rear. Their skills were to be used on the erection of the veranda steel posts which, on inspection, you will find that that posts are truly vertical, in line with each other and parallel with the Pavilion. Their skills again have been employed on the construction of a Pavilion Patio, involving around 140 slabs being laid to a mosaic pattern. These projects will always be visible as a testimony to their degree of workmanship.
The erection of the veranda took place during the latter part of Autumn 1986. Ernie King took the lead in the erection of the fibreglass roof construction and can claim to have drilled every screw hole in the roof. His energy has been used on earlier tasks, such as the flag pole erection and the score board supporting frame erection. There is little that Ernie has not been concerned with, that he might justifiably claim to wear the Royal Artillery badge motto UBIQUE. His full days work on the patio landed him in bed the following day, knowing full well that his physical condition was not conducive to ground work.
Bob and John put the final touches to the veranda by fitting a gutter that really works. These two stalwarts undertook a feasibility study for the extension to provide complete cover from Pavilion to Portakabin. After many hours on this study, the working party could not justify further time spent on this work, in view of a Havant Council officers remark that a future brick pavilion would be prejudiced if the extension was implemented. I have been required, no requested, to keep anonymous the name of the individual who displayed excellent window cleaning talents - he does not wish to be asked to repeat this too often!
Throughout the conversion, Eric Googe has been involved with inside and outside painting of the pavilion, ensuring that all paintwork was up to professional standard. His nailing down of a new Pavilion floor with assistance was no small achievement.
Your club surely has been fortunate to have had a main working party prepared to work and make decisions together and to maintain a sustained effort throughout the year. Equally fortunate for the club that further assistance has been available from the following:-
Tom Aplin Fred Morris Peter Staples Jim Harris
Jack Muggeridge Cyril Spencer George Gait Peter Oliver
Arnold Whalley Jim Hammond Alex Rose Fred Osborne
all have used equipment and tools provided by those taking part, including ladder, wheelbarrows, workbench, painting tools and brushes, electric sanders and power drills, carpentry tools, thumper, roller and many other items such as Erics Thingamajig, not forgetting, of all things, Alans bent screwdrivers, all three of them.
Many items have been donated, without which the overall project could not have been completed. Here are a few main items:-
Verandah posts Mike Lloyd
Refrigerator unit Kenwood Driver (who????)
Sink unit Ella Rayment
Expert advice was provided by Bert Gregory throughout the project; he became highly respected by all members in the team. Harry Foyle, (Daphne Paines father), master builder, also gave helpful guidance and in addition put his overalls on and helped with the erection of the veranda posts - not bad for a youngster of 85 plus!
The purchase of 6 benches to be sited under the veranda has now been completed. According to David, the instructor in charge of the woodwork shop at Barncroft Industrial Training Centre, this assignment enabled him to give work to all his handicapped people over a period of several months. David has also assisted our Club by giving advice and personally providing four finger grips to the shutter securing pins. Your Club has also made further use of handicapped people by purchasing several flower boxes from St James Hospital wood working shop under the control of SAM.
Finally, I wish to record the respect I hold for my fellow members of this working party. I have witnessed the many hours they have given in all kinds of weather. It was their skill and endeavours, their concern for the BBC, their continued quality control, that has enabled the Pavilion project to have been completed to a high degree of professionalism, and to have been completed in time for the 1987 open season.
PS. It would be fitting if the Pavilion benefactors could be invited to a Club evening, and of course include Sally Hart and John Pell in this assembly.
PPS. Spare a thought for the wives of the members of the working party, who have generously allowed their husbands to neglect household chores.
My friend, Ernie King, whilst working on the veranda, mentioned that once the Pavilion had been completed, we could use it for all kinds of social events during the winter months. One such activity was bridge, which, of course, I saw no reason why we should not start up a bridge section in the bowls club. Ernie knew that Ella and I played at Kingston Prison, and immediately came forth with the suggestion that we could send a group of players from the bridge section, when formed.
This would depend on what took place in the future, not only in the bowls club, but also in the prison. However, it would be interesting to enquire if they had a green and whether they would be prepared to play bowls, and then we might arrange to play the prisoners, as they did at bridge.
On my next visit to the prison, I mentioned this to Mary Brotherton, who was Secretary to the Principal of Highbury College, and played bridge on Friday night as a member of Court Lane Bridge Club, against the prisoners. Highbury was responsible for the prisoner education training programme, so that Mary was well placed to speak to the Training Officer in charge of their various activities.
When activities of this kind take place, the Governor of the Prison, before agreeing, has to be sure that he has prison officers available on duty to oversee that there is no breach of security which could arise with civilians mixing with his prisoners.
The final outcome of this suggestion was that a green was found, be it bumpy and not so much different from crown greens. The club made regular visits to the prison, including Ernie, Ella and myself, and a handful of other bowlers. The general discussion was not about bowls when we returned, but about what each lifer had done.
This was not so, in my case, for when I had previously sought this information I had felt sick when told. However, these lifers had committed their crimes mainly in the domestic scene, and no doubt in many cases happened on the spur of the moment. They came from all walks of life, one of whom played bridge and had been a public school boy. It appeared to me, that if prisoners here wished to improve their natural ability, be it art, education, industrial skills or acting, they had all the equipment and help to get them started to rebuild their lives.
On the art side, the Portsmouth Players assisted the prisoners to produce their concerts, to which those civilians who gave their time to visit them, such as the bridge players, were invited. Dirty Den in Eastenders commenced his acting career whilst at Kingston Prison.
It was no surprise when Ernie told me that he had received a request from the training officer to give violin lessons to one of their prisoners, who was keen to qualify as a violinist. This assignment was welcomed by the prisoners parents, who had got in touch with him. This was just another on-going involvement that he had taken on, and it could be stated that he and Mary lived their lives to the full in retirement.
My Monday morning stints of driving for the Havant Stroke Club became the high spot of the week after I had a few journeys taking Ernie to and fro. Being an ex-serviceman, I soon recognised that he had been a Sergeant-Major type in the Army and could never forget, his role in civvy street made more poignant by his stroke condition. Here is a typical Monday morning scene -
I noticed that Ernie leaned heavily on his walking stick by the front gate. Slightly grey haired, wearing a British Legion badge on the lapel of his ragged old dark suit, he shuffled to and fro impatiently waiting for his weekly Stroke Club fling. As I got out of my car, he shouted, I will put you on a charge if your are bleeding late again. I suppose you have over-slept again, or perhaps you cant afford an alarm clock!
I knew that Ernie lived alone with his Jack Russell terrier and the Monday morning ritual was an opportunity for him to let off steam, and I was the first to receive his salvo. If you are spoken to in an Army language to gain respect, you should also reply in a similar language.
I responded, I might tell you that I do not sleep on a Sunday night dreading the bleeding thoughts of picking you up - I have no need of setting an alarm clock! Ernie partly opened the garden gate with his stick in his right hand and dragged his right leg along as I came to assist by holding his right arm. At this moment, his next door neighbour, sitting on the front doorstep commented to us, Ernie will, of course, be chasing the ladies as soon as he gets there - thats why he is so tired when he returns back to his flat.
Now Ernie began to recall some of his army language. You will bleeding get me a bad name, I shall bloody well report you to the transport officer..
I knew that Ernie was forgetting his last week of isolation and he knew he would be in the company of people for a short while, some worse off in wheelchairs. Once I had secured him in the passenger seat, I started up the motor and we made our way to pick up Jim. Whilst changing to top gear, Ernie burst forth. You are not using the bleeding gears properly. If you were in my transport section in the army, I would have you bleeding well transferred to the infantry.
I immediately retorted, And if I were your transport officer, I would have you transferred to take charge of the glasshouse! Jim, my next patient, opened his door as I arrived and made his way to the car using a metal frame. I now received one of the two standard terms of greeting, Why are you so early today, we are not supposed to be at the centre until 10 am and it is only 9.30 now? I knew that Ernie could never get to the Stroke Club quick enough and would be waiting at the gate from 9.00 am onwards. I replied to Jim, You will have to blame Ernie, he is always complaining I am late, he is the cause of my being early.
Before further words could be spoken, Ernie uttered forth, I am in charge of this party, I decide the time of pick up and if you do not like it, Jim, you can go back to Scotland.
Jim knew that his self-appointed charge was in full sail and said to me, I suppose we have to do what we are told by Ernie, otherwise there will be trouble in the club this morning. Jim was able to make his own way to the car and passed the frame to me to be stowed in the boot of the car. Once in the car, Jim told me that he had some fuscia cuttings to give me when I took him back home.
Now that I had collected two of my patients, I made my way to pick up Edna, an elderly lady, whose heart attack had affected her speech. Edna was waiting at the entrance to a block of flats designed for residents requiring sheltered accommodation. On getting into the car, she said, Thank you driver, I did not think you would arrive quite as early.
Ernie interposed. I am in charge of this party, and what I say goes, and dont forget it! Edna, accustomed to his remarks, commented, Oh, I see he is at it again, we are in for some trouble this morning, I can see.
It was only a matter of minutes after leaving the sheltered accommodation that we arrived at the stroke club premises, located on the ground floor of Staunton School community building. The assembly room had not yet been prepared for the stroke people and gave Jim the opportunity to remark, There you are, I told you that we were too early, we should not have arrived until 10 oclock.
Ernie replied, It is the drivers fault. Always the same. I bet he does not own a watch! I could have too much of Ernies tongue and made my way to chat with the ladies in the Community Activity Office.
At that moment, Brenda, the lady in charge of the Stroke Club, arrived in the office and commented that I had managed to collect my third patient, Edna, who was new on my list. Ernie popped his head in through the doorway and said to Brenda, Put him on a charge for getting here too early!
I bet it is your fault. I know all about you getting onto the drivers to be early. retorted Brenda. I told her that she looked smart wearing her pearls and ear-rings to match. Yes. she said, It makes me feel good and I think this makes others feel good, also.
The wheelchair patients were now arriving one by one. Mary, a heavily built lady, being wheeled into the Assembly Room, spotted Ernie and shouted across, Here is my Prince Charming, will you come and sit with me today, instead of Sally?
The position at the table was important, after exercises had finished, for that was where they would remain for the rest of the morning. Sixteen patients took up their various activities, including basket making, flower arranging, soft toy making and various games, such as jigsaw puzzles. Ernie always sat nearest the tea-making facilities and made sure that he got served first and got a second filling.
I approached Brenda for my next weeks assignment and noticed that I was being watched by Ernie, who was waiting for his transport driver. Late again, I see. shouted out Ernie, Come on, you cannot stand talking when I am ready. Ernie was now carrying on his role of Sergeant Major again.
The return home was a matter of routine. In the car, Edna and Jim passed pleasantries, with Jim handing the fuscia cuttings to me, before I departed from his house.
Ernie remained completely silent during the whole of the return journey. There was no sign of his son, who generally had a wheelchair ready to wheel him into the flat. Looks as if your driver will be getting you into your abode this morning. I said to him.
With much assistance, I succeeded in helping him up the three steps, where he handed me the key to open the front door. As the door opened, he was greeted by his small terrier, wagging its tail, knowing that its master had returned.
Dont let the dog out. shouted Ernie. Hes my mate, I cannot survive without my chum!
I finally closed the door, ensuring that both the dog and his master were safely in. Next week, Ernie would again be waiting at the gate from 9 am to escape into his role of Sergeant Major, followed by the role of Prince Charming at the Stroke Club Fling.
I was first involved with the use of Staunton School, obtaining my life saving certificate soon after I arrived here to live in Bedhampton. Not only did the public make use of this schools swimming pool, but also its well equipped gymnasium, where I learned to play badminton.
There had been evening classes for many years, making use of state schools. However, the use of premises at these schools during the day time, for the purposes of the public, as in this case for the stroke club, seemed very creditable indeed, as were the other uses I discovered. Some of these were age concern groups, training for the unemployed, therapeutic exercises for the disabled and occupational therapy.
According to the stroke club literature, there were around 350 similar clubs to the Havant Stroke Club, helping those who have been cruelly stricken down with this illness.
It is wonderful to know that there are carers, like Brenda, who are prepared to give their time in organising and taking part in the running of these clubs. This also included those who supported them in all other ways, including, of course, driving!
Whilst I found solace in my involvement with Havant Stroke Club, Ella was not able to throw off her concern that Laura had forsaken her, apart from having relief, like me, on the Harry scene, since he had been in Radnor House.
That disastrous phone call from Laura the previous autumn to her mother, who failed to clap her hands with joy when Laura announced she was pregnant, had now been more than punished. Ella, it would appear, would be subject to receiving Christmas and birthday cards from her grandchildren, but not from her daughter or son-in-law.
This happened on Ellas 71st birthday. It was as if this Laura cloud that had settled over our heads had thundered and sent a streak of lightning straight to her heart. The result of this cruel action was to cause her depression to become deeper.
I tried to find a solution to heal the damage done to Ellas health without success, for Laura had a fixation about being true to herself. Her actions in not sending cards when her children did, was worse than forsaking her mother, it was keeping a wound festering and could be likened to putting your knife in, and turning it.
What makes a daughter want to do this to anyone, particularly her mother?
When God created mankind, not only did he provide all his needs on earth to nourish him, but he also gave him a woman as his mate. He also gave him animals, such as cats and dogs for the domestic home, to keep many lonely people company. He also gave man a will of his own, and to help him, ensured that he was given the Guide to Living on Earth. This happened, according to the Book of Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and arrived at Mount Sinai. Moses left his tribe and did as he was commanded, and ascended the mount, where the Lord gave him the ten commandments to give to his people.
Any breaking of these rules in some way, can cause one or more to get hurt, or in the worst case, to lose their life. One of these commandments, for the Christian to observe, is Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long upon the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The hurt that had been suffered, could only be told by Ella, due to her daughters action in breaking this commandment.
There are so many things in life beyond understanding, that each individual needs to have faith that whatever happens is intended to be for our good. The loss of Gladys, who gave her life to the family, and was ever faithful to me, I can only believe was given a resting place in heaven.
A phone call was received from Peter, speaking from a nursing home in Shrewsbury, telling us of the birth of John, who, with his mother, Laura, was doing well.
We had no knowledge that this birth was imminent, nor were we aware that she was at Shrewsbury. This sounded good news all round, particularly as Peter had bothered to phone us. We, of course, alerted Andrew and family at Shrewsbury, who were able to visit them.
I was about to suggest that we make a surprise visit to see mother and child, when I found her crying. Were these tears of joy, or was it because Peter had failed to invite us over? Throughout this Laura affair, I had refrained from making disparaging remarks about Laura in front of her mother. In as cheerful a voice as possible, I made the suggestion, Ella, lets give them a surprise and visit them next week. She wiped a few tears from her face and looked at me, and murmured, Do you really mean that? Of course I do, we could stop the night at the Feathers, now that my teeth have been repaired. This brought a smile, knowing the plight I was in when I had broken dentures in the dining room, after failing to get my teeth into a steak meal.
Now Ella was a different person, it was is as if new life had been put into her. I began to worry whether my old Allegro would be able to take all the presents and toys that she had been collecting before our departure.
On setting out on this journey of approximately 150 miles to Ludlow, I had planned to arrive at around 11.30 am at Ludlow, so that we could book into the Feathers for the night, and have our midday meal there too. The route had been well tried on several occasions before this rupture with Laura. Once on the Oxford road, it was a matter of taking the A40 to Ross-on-Wye and turning back on the A49 Shrewsbury road, passing through Hereford, before reaching Leominster and then Ludlow. The only bottle neck on the whole journey was at Newbury, where this had been experienced for many years.
Ella had been quiet throughout the journey, my main concern was to get there safely, and hope all went to plan. Peter had a chemists shop in the shopping area of Ludlow, where we immediately made for on our arrival, before dinner time.
To say I was a little apprehensive as I entered the shop, could be described as an understatement. Peter had always looked serious, and so I had no reason to believe he would look otherwise when I met him behind the counter. A lady was serving, who called for Peter from the chemist laboratory. He appeared almost at once, and showed no surprise when he first saw me. I explained that we had just arrived, hoping we could have a peek at John. He showed signs of concern, and said, Laura is in a local nursing home with the baby and will be coming out during this dinner time. I suggested that we popped round to Mount Flirt, Henley, during mid-afternoon, to allow time for settling in. This, he seemed to agree.
I had a hunch that we were not wanted, and refrained from booking in for the night at the Feathers. This time, my teeth withstood the toughness test, not surprising, since I chose fish for my main meal!
Neither of us spoke much, our minds were elsewhere. This hotel was a well-known coaching stop in days of old and had become a tourist attraction. Our journey to Henley, just outside Ludlow, took less than 15 minutes, which I had timed to arrive by 3 pm.
We opened the garden gate, and passed the barn, which Peter had converted into a workshop. This old farmstead, that had become their home, without the farm, looked bare with no animals or poultry around. I knocked on the heavy door but could not detect any sound of life from the building. Neither could we see any traces of life by looking through the ground floor windows. We went to the rear of the house and found the same situation. Neither were there any prams or baby toys lying around in the rooms. It could be said that we had drawn a blank!
Not surprisingly, Ella had gone silent again, and all I could say was that we should return to the chemists shop and find out where they were staying. Again I entered the shop, even more apprehensive than before, where he was standing behind the counter as if he was waiting for me. Peter, we could not locate them at Mount Flirt.
Oh they must have gone off to sleep, they have had a busy time, today. Ill give her a ring, while you wait. This we did, and after a few minutes he returned to tell us that he had been unable to make contact and that they must still be asleep. No effort was made to suggest that if we stayed we would be able to see them later. This was known in chess as stale mate, but we were not playing chess. He made no effort to ease Ellas mind or tell us that if we stayed, Laura would be pleased to have her mother see John. It did not require much intelligence to read that we were not wanted on his patch.
Few journeys in my lifetime could compare to the return trip home, for having difficulty in concentrating on the driving. Through my mind was the question, how could anyone be so cruel to their own kith and kin? Did this mean another name on the Christmas and birthday cards, with none from Laura and Peter, and if so, for how long? The stress and strain of driving around 350 miles by the time we returned home, made me feel a nervous wreck, and Ella likewise had heart strains.
We had done all that we could do to patch up any mis-understanding between daughter and mother and was it to be that time alone could heal this rift? If we are taught in the Lords Prayer to forgive those that trespass against us, it would be in my case that if I forgave, I could not forget the ordeal and suffering they had wrought upon us.
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 15, 2001