Mike on December 12th, 2011

There I was, in Maney Hall Sutton Coldfield (England), listening to whichever local band was playing at the time, and it struck me………..I want to do that!


It was late 1972 early 1973 and I know that because in those days, everything you did was centred on what was in the charts at the time. This was a “GudbuyT’Jane” moment. I’ve checked since and that reached number 2 on 25th November 1972, so there you go.


The very next day I found somebody to teach me those three chords (see “Demystifying playing the Electric Guitar” elsewhere in this blog) and off I went. Some likeminded mates joined in and we had a band. Great fun.


Pretty soon we were playing at the odd party and a little bit later, the local church hall circuit. I remember one school event when we successfully managed to plaster all the parents and the odd school master up against the back wall-something to do with the volume I think. When we eventually did play Maney Hall it was a defining moment, like things going full circle.


The Beatles. Now I have been a Beatles fan for as long as I can remember, and I was forever sticking some of their songs in our set much to the chagrin of some of the more contemporary band members. So imagine my surprise and delight, when, many years later I discovered that on 1st February 1963, The Beatles had played two gigs, one being at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth, Staffordshire and the other…….you guessed it, at somewhere called St Peters Church Hall, in Sutton Coldfield, known locally as Maney Hall!!


I haven’t washed my feet since!

Mike on November 17th, 2011

Mike on November 16th, 2011
IT’S a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries;
I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills.
And April’s in the west wind, and daffodils.It’s a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine,
Apple orchards blossom there, and the air’s like wine.
There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest,
And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.”Will ye not come home brother? ye have been long away,
It’s April, and blossom time, and white is the may;
And bright is the sun brother, and warm is the rain,–
Will ye not come home, brother, home to us again?

“The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run.
It’s blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun.
It’s song to a man’s soul, brother, fire to a man’s brain,
To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again.

“Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat,
So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet?
I’ve a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,”
Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries.

It’s the white road westwards is the road I must tread
To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
To the violets, and the warm hearts, and the thrushes’ song,
In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.

Mike on November 14th, 2011

Mike on November 12th, 2011

Now and then, when I want to dissolve into a meditative moment, I close my eyes and I’m there! Now those of you who’ve been will know exactly what I mean.


For me, its brilliant blue skies, crystal clear air and snow capped mountain peaks to die for. There I am, standing at the top of some mountain, surrounded by those aforementioned peaks, listening to the snow gently crunching underfoot as I shuffle my skies to and fro in anticipation of the forthcoming decent.


Although I’ve not been for a while, those feelings are available to me whenever I want or need to pull them out, great isn’t it.


Thinking back to where it all started for me, my first trip was billed as a “learn and laugh” holiday and that it most certainly was.  No frills, low budget stuff, and all the better for it, great snow and lots of falling over.


I also remember the inappropriate clothing you buy. I had duly bought some all in one little number as recommended by the guy in the shop. From a distance, it looked blue, but it has a faint white stripe running through it, hooded, and of course well padded as was the fashion back then.


Picture this then. I’m standing, justly proud of my new attire, under some chair lift when I hear shouts from above my head. Looking up, I see three guys in fits of laughter. One of them manages to lean over without falling out and points with his pole directly at me…..”Hey….Andy Pandy…………!” and then promptly dissolves again in fits of giggles!


I’m unable to forget that either!!

Mike on November 12th, 2011

Jump to 38.10…

Many firms within the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter undertook wartime work. One such Manufacturing Jeweller was Thomas L Mott Ltd (“TLM”) of Vyse Street.

During the Great War (1914-1918), TLM produced military cap badges and other similar items and although this continued throughout the Second World War (1939-1945), of far greater interest was its work on what might even today be regards as “more specialised activities”. Amongst these was the production of very small compasses for use by special forces, paratroopers and commandos behind enemy lines. Due to its secret nature, this work was of course very closely monitored, with all tooling being guarded and strictly controlled.

It is of no great surprise that Jewellers were used for this work. They were of course used to dealing in meticulous detail with items of great value and it was presumably this expertise that enabled them to carry out this work quietly and without fanfare.

Although sadly TLM no longer exists, its work lives on in the very nice examples that can still to be found on EBay. On a historical note, the site that it once occupied is now the home of the Birmingham Jewellery Museum

Mike on November 9th, 2011

Mike on November 8th, 2011

One day it happens. You’re a bit older than you thought you were.

I was considering taking up some form of Martial Arts again after a (very) long gap and had dropped in on any number of local sessions ranging from kick boxing to Karate. All looked the part, but something was missing…………..older students! Not to be put off, I still had a number of Arts to look at including Jujutsu and Aikido. The former had always appealed because it seemed to me, based on my limited knowledge to include all the elements of defensive, and if required offensive moves being throws, locks, kicks punches etc.

So off I went to look at Jujutsu, and I wasn’t disappointed. The only concern I had was the very direct nature of the session I went to, and if I’m honest in particular, the effect the five minutes or so of continuous punching was having on the recipient I was watching. Other than that, it looked great.

Then I went to Aikido. The first thing to say was that these guys were for real, that isthe attacks were full on and not staged in any way. I very quickly realised that my concerns over the other Martial Arts did not apply here. The first response, indeed almost the instinctive and instantaneous reaction required was in most cases to avoid the attack by moving offline and delivering an effective response in such a way as to limit any damage to both the attacker and more importantly oneself.

Since then I’ve had lots of breaks from training, but you know what, I still enjoy every minute when I am able to go. With the oldest club member being in their 70’s, I’ve got a very long way to go in every sense. Highly recommended, give it a go.

Mike on November 1st, 2011