On This Day: “The sound of his bat somehow puts me in mind of vintage port”
Said AA Milne, author and creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, of cricketer Jack Hobbs who died, 1963
The fast and the furious
It takes a special sort of somebody to upset a whole town. But that’s exactly what Lewis Hamilton managed this week when in accepting a BBC Sports Personality of the Year award he described his hometown of Stevenage as a ‘slum’. ‘It’s been a really long journey, a dream for us all, as a family, to do something different, to get out of the slums’, Lewis said speaking of his desire to get out of Hertfordshire. He immediately backtracked adding, ‘Well, not the slums, but just come out from somewhere and do something’.
Trevor Lugmayer, 73, who now owns the property where Hamilton lived while he was making his name, was more than a bit miffed: ‘Most people in Stevenage were Lewis Hamilton fans, but I am not so sure now’, he told The Times, adding ‘I think he’s lost touch with reality by living in Monaco if he thinks Stevenage is the slum’.
Incidentally, the four-bedroom house is now worth £1 million so despite what Hamilton would have us believe this really isn’t a story of rags to riches. Lewis, you’d better make a U-turn on this one!
Away in a manger
It wasn’t the crib of Jesus Christ but then it doesn’t need to be. A cattle trough in Hampstead, north-west London has apparently joined the ranks of Heritage England’s listed buildings and structures. The trough, which provided water for cattle, horses and dogs, serves as a reminder of the once common presence of farm animals in the capital.
Other structures and buildings of the 924 which were newly listed this year include a thatched bus shelter on the A353, Robin Hood sculptures in Nottingham and a big cockerel, which resembles a pub sign, on Sutton High Street. Clearly you don’t have to be a country pile to be appreciated in this modern day and age!
Towering numbers of cranes
Birds – other than the Christmas turkey – have been in the news this week as the RSPB revealed that the crane has enjoyed its best year in Britain since the 1600s. Having vanished for 400 years after the over-zealous Elizabethans used to serve them at court feasts, they reappeared in the late 70s.
An intensive breeding programme called the Great Crane Project, run by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Slimbridge, the RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust in Norfolk has seen their numbers rise to about 180, with 54 breeding pairs. Damon Bridge, chairman of the UK Crane working Group told the Telegraph: “To see them starting to spread back across the country after all this time is just brilliant.”
Lord Braybrooke, who died last year aged 85, was a passionate collector of miniature locomotives even opening a railway in the grounds of his home – the Audley End estate in Saffron Walden, Essex. Now to keep things going, his eldest daughter Amanda Murray is having to sell some of the locomotives in the collection in what has been ‘a heart-breaking decision’.
Still, at least this means the garden railway will live on. As Mrs Murray explained to The Times: ‘We will retain the largest and most efficient [locomotives], which are perfect for our needs, as well as the diesel engines”.
Lord Braybrooke wasn’t alone in his love for trains. For Rod Stewart being on the cover of Model Railroader was better than being on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and Jools Holland, the pianist and presenter, has a 100ft model railway in his attic. Still, Lord Braybrooke was the original train enthusiast – you can’t beat riding around your garden on your very own railway network now can you?
It won’t be lonely this Christmas…
It’s a magical story that has melted hearts since it was published 40 years ago. Now to celebrate the anniversary of The Snowman, nine leading British children’s illustrators – including Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes – have all drawn scenes in their own styles to pay tribute to the book’s creator, Raymond Briggs, 84.
Usually without a partner, illustrator Helen Oxenbury depicted the Snowman with a female friend dancing together in the moonlight. “The thought that he might have a lady love in the next field struck me as a nice idea,” she told The Guardian.
You can see all the illustrations at the Brighton Museum until January 6. They will then be sold to raise money for Brigg’s charity of choice, Chestnut Tree House, a children’s hospice.
This England takes a break from the newsreel until 11 January 2019 due to the Christmas festivities. May we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and happiest of New Years. Until next time…
The This England Team