Water Lilies by Jim Harris

21

July

Evening all

GW

Memories of a local reporter

 

In the mid 1960s I worked as a reporter on a newspaper in Richmond, Surrey which is on the fringes of London's built up area. It was town rather than country and had something of the atmosphere of the so-called " swinging sixties" about it. The Rolling Stones, then one of a number of imitators of  black American blues music, played there and Richmond had its jazz festivals. The phone hacking scandal, which has put senior policemen in the Parliamentary dock, has brought back memories of that time and had me mulling over the relationship we had then with the local police.

 

We got a great many stories from the police and my memory is that we were keen to keep in their good books. I do not recall any criticisms of police operations or police behaviour. As reporters we inevitably got to know the local bobbies. We made regular calls to the police station to look through the OB book. This Occurrence Book listed all kinds of incidents that had ...

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12

April

The Hazards of the Street Party

Gavin Weightman

Here is a litte verse I wrote in May 1977 when I was working on New Society magazine. I had been sent a press release by the Environmental Health Officers' Association with dire warnings of the hazards of the street parties planned for the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

 

The Hazards of the Street party by Gavin Weightman

Beware, beware, the Jubilee

The hazards of the street party

Heed well those men of cleanly stealth

Officers of Envirnomental Health

 

Don't let your cough

Pollute the broth

Cook well the frozen fowl

Keep down the toll

Of sausage rolls

Safeguard the festive bowel

 

Use paper cups

You don't wash up

And bandage well your sores

Yours boils and spots

Could spoil the lot

' Tis rash to flout these laws

 

Beware, beware the Jubilee

The deafening noise of revelry

Keep amps within 200 watts

And aim them at some central spot

 

Too fierce a noise

Will spoil our joys

Don't drown our loyalty

Heed the frown

And " Turn it down!"

In ...

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21

March

The Call for Silence

Gavin Weightman

The stories of the discovery of survivors in the rubble nine days after the tsunami bulldozed whole townships in Japan are a reminder to all rescue teams that, even when hope is fading, they should remain alert to the slightest signs of life. This was a lesson learned in London during the Blitz when after every air raid there were people trapped alive in bombed out buildings. Finding and excavating survivors after a raid fell to the Heavy Rescue teams composed chiefly of men too old to fight but with knowledge of the building trades and still vigorous enough to pick their way through rubble. They had nothing in the way of sophisticated search equipment but evolved a way of working which is still of value.

Firstly, they tried not to disturb the flimsy structures of collapsed buildings by trampling over them. They moved very cautiously using a kind of careful "pick-a-stick" approach. And then, at regular intervals, there would be a call for silence, an appeal would be made ...

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20

March

Nuclear dreams

Gavin Weightman

We tend to fall in love with new technologies and to imagine that in no time they will solve all our problems. In the autumn of 1881 the pretty Surrey town of Godalming pioneered a public supply of electric lighting with a generator powered by a watermill on the river Wey. This, thought a correspondent for The Daily Telegraph was the beginning of a new gas and coal free era in civilisation. Wey ahead of his time, you might say: " It has been reserved for little Godalming to turn its river, the slender and rippling Wey, into a piece of machinery, and set it, just like any other mechanical servant to the task of lighting the streets....The days when gas companies can pump into our houses a noxious, explosive vapour like carburetted hydrogen, through uncertain machines called meters and charge an abnormally extortionate price for it are numbered. ...We shall not want the stoke and the collier so much if only the example set by the good people of Godalming be followed.

"The waterfalls, millheads ...

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