Is This An Article Or A Letter, Or What?
By Merle R. Stone
It is with tremendous trepidation and maybe a tiny bit of panic that I begin this writing. You see, I once wrote with exceptional ease, and had no trouble at all putting my thoughts into print. As of late, though, it would seem that that particular talent has abandoned me. Has this ever happened to any of you (I presume, of course, that somebody is actually reading this)?
Not that I feel that I ever had any real talent for writing. It's just that when I had a thought, I could put it down without dissecting it and being hyper-critical of how it looks on paper. Lately I have developed the habit of typing only about two lines, then butchering it to the point that it no longer resembles my original thought.
Horribly frustrating. In fact, if there are any great finishers out there who would be interested in several novels and dozens of short stories which are about 95% completed, ring me up. We can work out a bulk deal. Anyway, on to the reason for this contribution.
I guess I still haven't gotten Hull completely out of my system. The last time that I was there was in 1986 so I doubt that it's just something that was in the water at the time. I think Hull and the surrounding areas, and especially the people, made that much of an impression on me. Now, I have read the ramblings of many a naysayer on the subject of Hull.
To be quite honest, I feel the same way about the city that I live in. We have our nice areas and our fancy eating places, and our dress-up occasions. But my city has that same dirty underbelly that seems to garner all of the attention and detract from what might otherwise be a decent place to live and work.
Tell me if this happens over there, too. In a nice, clean, respectable part of town, a newsworthy event takes place.
When the reporter turns to interview the average 'man on the street' for that area, invariably some filthy, toothless, tobacco spitting moron has made his way into the spotlight and completely misrepresents the image for the surroundings.
As if to say 'Yes, good people of TV Land, this is my $500,000.00 house burning to the ground behind us.' In reality, he lives in a large box which he has secreted in the bushes behind the garage of the home.
I guess my point is that no matter where it is that you call home, if you look hard enough, you'll find dirt. And, honestly, I don't have to look very hard in my city. I don't know, maybe I just miss the feeling of being somewhere that is so much older than where I come from.
I was richly blessed in my younger days to have a job that allowed me to travel extensively. I was a US Marine, so they didn't so much allow me to travel as they required me to.
I have been around the world, mostly in a drunken stupor, and I have seen thousands upon thousands of people. You guys and gals, you citizens of Hull, made it your job to make sure that I had the time of my life while there. Now, I didn't just happen to venture over there on a whim. I had some very good friends who lived there.
These friends were in a band that played at our military base in Rota, Spain. While they were there, we went all out for them, and tried to keep them entertained and let them know that we appreciated them.
Of course, in the spirit of being polite, they told all of us that if we were ever in England to look them up and come for a visit. Surprise! I'm not sure they really knew what to do with us when we got there.
This was evident when I overheard one of them say into the phone 'What the hell are we going to do with them?' when talking to another of our friends. After much debate, and many beers, they fired up the party and proceeded to introduce us to their town.
If there is still anyone reading this, I'll give you a quick look at what transpired. I will leave it entirely up to you to determine if I should ever be allowed back into your country.
As I previously stated, I spent much of those years in a drunken stupor. Though these events actually took place, their order may have been slightly different.
We went to a bar one night to watch our friend Duncan play with his new band. He played the drums, and sang a bit, and was a constant source of hysterical fits of laughter. The man was just plain funny.
Anyway, I had been to a military surplus store some time earlier in the day. I had bought some of those little stink bombs that come in the glass vials. While Duncan was taking a break, I went up on stage to 'check out his new kit,' and placed one of the vials into the workings of his bass pedal.
As the band took the stage for their next set, I watched the action from the bar, which was some distance from the stage.
After a few whumps from the bass drum, the entire crowd started heading to the door. It wasn't long before the stench reached me, and I had to do the same.
In the true English manner, the band continued to play, and the odor eventually went away. I think the whole bar knew what happened, they just didn't know who to blame. I told Duncan about it after they finished, and we had a really good laugh.
Also during this general timeframe, I wandered the streets of Hull one afternoon. I had been staying with friends at 9 Hymers Avenue, upper flat, and it was only about a half block walk to Spring Bank West. I turned east on Spring Bank West, to Springbank and continued for a mile or two, happening upon a movie theater.
While waiting in line for the tickets, I produced one of the vials from my jacket pocket and popped it on the ground with my shoe. Everyone was mortified by the smell, and hilarity ensued as some of the guys in line started blaming each other for the noxious odor.
It wasn't until I was seated and watching the previews that I realized that the smell was still on my shoe. Fortunately, the odor vanished shortly after everybody moved to different seats, leaving me to sit in my self-imposed stink zone. I have to admit, though, those little stink bombs were a lot of fun.
OK, maybe someone can help me with this next memory. My good friend Howard, who chooses to go by 'H,' and his brother (who let me sample his home made beer before we went out for the evening) took me to a restaurant/bar which was a bit of a drive from the city, and was situated up on a hill.
It was a rather posh place, but not too swanky, and all I remember is that the more alcohol I consumed, the more willing I was to try to speak with an English accent.
'H' and his brother had me saying all sorts of rude things, and before long the people at other tables were coming over and buying me drinks and trying to get me to say things with an accent.
From what I remember, the entire place had a good time, and I got enough free beer to float a ship! I only wish I could remember where that place was. I remember thinking I was near a nuclear facility because I saw cooling towers of some sort along the road as we drove to the bar.
My friends Alan and Mandy, with whom I was staying, on Hymers Avenue (though Alan was out of the country with another band) were friends with Kay and Phil. Kay worked at a local horse track, and Phil worked in a music store just around the corner on Springbank.
We were sitting at Mandy's when Phil came along and said that he just heard from Kay that a particular horse (read underdog) was the favorite to win in the second race of the day.
Well, we dashed to the nearest off-track betting site to place our bets, and I put down 50 to win.
Needless to say, underdog came in dead last and Mandy and Phil were devastated that I lost so much money. I still remember how down they were about my gambling loss, and how badly they felt that I lost it because of Kay's bum tip.
Did I mention that Phil reminds me of the guy who stars in Shawn of the Dead. At least that's how he looked back then. Probably a very ruggedly handsome gentleman now! Curiously, that is the only negative memory I have of Hull, and that's just because I lost 50 pounds of drinking money! What a shame.
It's funny, the things that I remember from there. That was so long ago. A lifetime for a lot of the people who might be reading this. What's even more incredible is that I remember so much, and was drunk almost the entire time that I was there. There are songs that I still hear that remind me of very specific times and events. Sometimes I see a stranger, and they remind me of strangers that I saw over there.
Hull is deeply etched in my memory, right down to the faces. I clearly remember what the punker girl who was stretched out on the grass at a free concert in the park, down by the Humber, looks like. I can remember what she was wearing, and how every time she glanced my way, I blushed and turned away, so she wouldn't know I was enthralled by her.
I remember the faces of the two bobbies I chatted with in the park that day. I told them I was going into law enforcement when I got out of the Marines, and asked for one of their hats. No deal! I remember the face of the guy who sold us the tall plastic bottles of beer that day, though I also remember his face getting fuzzier and fuzzier as the day wore on.
I remember the White Horse, and the ghostly tale that goes along with it. I remember the taste and feel and smell of the air coming off the water. Mostly, I remember thinking that it was one of the finest places that I had ever been.
As I sore through the old mental images and memories, I just might find one or two that I think you might enjoy reading. With your permission, I might just pass them along at a later date. Until then, thank you for giving me this time to reminisce and thank you for all the great memories.
Articles - Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes By C.B. Tempest.
There are times when a friend's death can be such a surprise, as to justify it being shocking. With Phil Barnes, otherwise known as 'Acker' was just such a moment.
Though never the centre of the action but passing his fine arts degree all too easily, he always lay to the side, carefully rolling his 'baccy' to smoke, dressed in his 'ironic' suit and tie: he never
held down any obvious 'career' jobs, like being a lawyer or banker; rather he was an outsider,
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 4 By Terry Hood
Whilst living in Hull I worked for other companies. They were C.D.Holmes, Blackburn Aircraft and Ideal Standard which is in National Avenue.
We purchased our first house in National Avenue and we found out that when the washing was put out on the line, when it was brought in the items had smut marks on them and had to be washed again. This was due to the smoke from Ideal Standard's chimney.
Articles - All About Sex, the Government Minister, the Dead Boy in the Orphanage and the Cover Up By Tim Roux.
When I am not focusing on Hull (and I have recently completed another 'Hull' book, called Missio, about a boy whose father went down with the trawler The Gaul in 1974) I do sometimes engage with the wider world although, to be honest, it isn't up to much.
However, there is one excellent site I contribute to called Speak Without Interruption Read more...
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 3 By Terry Hood
On 26th January 1955 the nation was stunned by the news of the loss of the Lorella and Roderigo with all 40 crewmen during severe weather off Iceland. This was due to black ice forming on the trawlers. As quick as the crew were chipping it off, it was forming again.
My cousin was on another trawler standing by listening to the radio operators on each trawler talking to each other and then he heard one of them say, 'Give our love to our wives,
Articles - (Belated) End of 2009 By Cilla (Editor).
It's late. This was supposed to be an end of year piece and I guess it's typical of my life recently - there's just never enough time to do everything I want to do - time just passes too quickly.
So, it's 2010. Another year bites the dust. The first decade of the 21st century is over with - gone in a flash and here we all are, shivering with cold and sliding off pavements, sitting in queues of smoke billowing traffic.
When I was growing up, I took it for granted
Articles - Christmas With The Big D By Andrea Longstaff
Well, it's that time of the year again; a time of incongruity that spills over into the blurry edges of surrealism. At no other time but December will you see elves strolling down the street. I fondly recall one past Yuletide playing a game of pool with an elf.
Throughout the rest of the year we tell our children not to talk to strangers, then come December and they're all scared witless
Articles - The Political Show Trial the BBC Just Couldn't Resist By Steve Regan, the King of Hull
Shame on the BBC for giving a platform to people prepared to deny the dignity and worth of fellow human beings.
Yes, the bullying approach adopted by the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal-Democrat MP Chris Huhne and the American writer Bonnie Greer on last night's Question Time was an affront to decency.
And the BBC top brass should not have allowed the show's usual format to be hijacked and used as a nasty and counter-productive show trial of BNP chairman Nick Griffin.
Articles - Memories of Hull Part 2 By Terry Hood
After being away from Hull for 40 years it was great to see my home town again and its friendly people. Some places I can remember and have now probably gone are Gainsborough fish and chip restaurant, the Cecil cinema where I went with my wife and my mum to see Emil Ford and the Checkmates, the Tower and Regent cinemas.
There was Sydney Scarborough's record shop were the trawler men used to go for the latest records when they came home from sea.
Articles - Memories of Hull By Terry Hood
I served my apprenticeship as a ships rigger with Lord Line in 1954. Tom Boyd was an absolute gentleman and the best boss I ever worked for.
I now live in Cheltenham but I visited Hull in April of this year and saw the true reality of St. Andrews Dock, Lord Line and surrounding area. It brought back such a lot of happy memories and sadness to see it as it is today.
Whilst I was in Hull I visited the museum
Articles - Don Wilson 1916 - 2009.
One of Nidderdale's most fascinating characters has died suddenly aged 93.
Donald Wilson moved from Edinburgh to Dacre Banks in February 1950, having been stationed at RAF Linton on Ouse during the war. Don was shot down over Germany early in the conflict and was eventually imprisoned in the infamous Stalag Luft III, setting for the film The Great Escape. He provided invaluable information and advice for the makers of the film, having kept a detailed wartime log during his incarceration.
Articles - Writing about a Hull singer-songwriter using the music of Joe Solo By Tim Roux.
I have just had a fantastic experience - writing a novel,(Just like) El Cid's Bloomers' about a fictional
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And it could be a global first - the first musical novel to be designed specifically for an e-book format.
It doesn't really matter whether it is or isn't, but it is always fun to be the first to do something.
For Joe, there were some serious potential downsides to the project.
Articles - Birth and Death in Ten Minutes: A Miracle in Room 11 By Ruth
'Doctor, they have an emergency in Room 11.'
'Ok, I'm coming.'
I put the phone down and exited the oppressive call room, where as the scheduled 'doc-in-the-box' on duty, I was busy frittering away 24 hours of my life.
My 11-year-old-son had state exams the next day, and I hoped my 17-year-old daughter would make sure he studied. I knew they would probably watch TV and eat microwave food on the sofa instead.
Articles - The Cosmic Mayfly By David Sloan
From deep under the oceans, far from any sunlight, to high up in spewing volcanoes, life forms have been found on our planet. Even deep in the arctic ice, life forms have been found to exist.
For life is tenacious, if it can exist it will exist, this is the way of nature. Soon, yes very soon, I'm sure we will find life forms on other planets in our solar system. Indeed I'd be very surprised if the whole universe were not teaming with some form of primeval life or another.