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“This is London calling” said the well-spoken voice. It was 1942, Britain was at war, and in homes across England, from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland in the north, to Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire in the Midlands, to Norfolk and Suffok in the east and Cornwall, Devon, Kent and Sussex in the south, people gathered around their wireless sets to listen to the latest news.

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The other night I switched on the television and came across a piece of iconic viewing from the 1960s: The Prisoner. Do you remember it? Starring the blue-eyed Patrick McGoohan the series was typical of its time. It was quirky, eccentric and surreal, and viewers were constantly intrigued by its bizarre storyline. For those who didn’t see it, McGoohan was a former secret agent who had been kidnapped and taken to a mysterious, but idyllic-looking place called “The Village”, where all his attempts to escape failed. He was only ever referred to as Number Six – despite his repeated protestations of “I am not a number, but a free man.” Although it was a bit before my time, I have enjoyed the series on DVD because – rather like that other superb 1960s programme The Avengers - it is so wonderfully British in its stylish and witty approach to the realms of espionage, science-fiction and fantasy.

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Over the years, so many people have spoken about or written down their memories of the moment, that even those of us who were not there have a picture in our minds of what it was like. The overwhelming impression is of a quiet sunny day; of windows open in suburban houses and the sounds of conversation, the clatter of pots and pans, and music from the wireless drifting out into neatly kept gardens and tidy back yards.

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It can’t have escaped your notice that the cameras have been firmly fixed on Evergreen and This England’s hometown of Cheltenham this week, with the annual Gold Cup Festival. Although our office is some distance from the racecourse at Prestbury Park, I’m convinced that we can still hear the famous Cheltenham roar, which heralds the first race at the start of the festival, and the thunder of horses’ hooves. If we trained our binoculars on the horizon we might also be able to see hats thrown in the air in celebration, or torn betting slips cascading like confetti in despair.

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As we appear to have neglected it a bit in recent magazines, I’m busy writing an article for the summer issue of This England about my home county of Lancashire. And when I say Lancashire, I mean the traditional county, the one that has been in existence since the 12th century, and not the administrative area that came into being with the local government reforms of the 1970s.

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We know from the correspondence we receive, just how much Evergreen readers enjoy rediscovering books, songs and poems from the past. Our “Hey, Diddle Diddle!” feature, which looks at the origins of some of our best-known nursery rhymes, always uncovers some surprising stories. Little Jack Horner and the frog who went a-wooing are the two rhymes that we delve into in the current issue (click here for subscriptions), and the history that lies behind these seemingly childish and innocent verses is fascinating.

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The last time I went to the pictures there was a pianist at the side of the stage playing music to accompany the action unfolding on the giant screen: slow and tender to reflect romantic moments, fast and frenetic whenever the action was dramatic and exciting. (Was the heroine tied with ropes to the railway line as the steam train approached ever rescued?)

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When was the last time you went to the theatre? Which show did you see? Did you enjoy it? Were there any particularly memorable performances? And, finally, how did the audience behave? I ask these questions for a couple of reasons, as will become apparent in this blog.

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Since he was inaugurated just over a month ago, a lot has been spoken and written about President Donald Trump. Many commentators have criticised his policy proposals, complained about his way of running the government and even cast doubts about his character and questioned his suitability for the role. Well, whatever you might think of him as a world leader I can tell you this: he is an extremely generous man. If you don’t believe me, just read the following extraordinary email that arrived on my computer yesterday (in the “Junk” folder, curiously). The subject line read: “Greetings From White House Official Residence Of The President":

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Ladies and gentlemen, the red carpet has been rolled out and it's time to step into your finest frocks and don your tuxedos because this Sunday, 26th February, sees the 89th Academy Awards - better known as the Oscars. Yes, this is the time of year when the stars come out to shine at their brightest, although, dare I say it, not necessarily their best! Somewhere over that glorious Technicolor rainbow, accompanied by the roar of the MGM lion and the 20th-Century Fox fanfare, the leading performers are preparing themselves for Hollywood's greatest night of the year. Once the cameras start rolling they will be polished and preened to perfection, posing like a parade of peacocks as they pause for the greedily snapping photographers and the headline-hungry reporters lining the red carpet. I love the way the stars have perfected that dazzling, megawatt smile that remains firmly in place even when the precious statuette doesn't come into their beautifully manicured grasp. But just take note of how enthusiastically they applaud the victorious nominee. Is this a method of positively channelling their despair? In 1965, when the Oscars were first televised in colour, Bob Hope memorably quipped: "For the first time, you can actually see the losers turn green."

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