With a day off from the World Cup last Friday I focused on the weeding. I started the day though -regular readers know what’s coming now – with a mug of black coffee and my iPad on the western veranda – and got out there around 04.30 hours.
First up was a bit of time with The Times online. I’d watched (if not live, then when its been replayed) nearly every game of the group stages so didn’t need to spend much time looking at the supplement that The Times is publishing just for the World Cup. Instead I spent my time reading the match reports and articles about The Wimbledon Championships.
I’ve caught some of the matches on TV but there’s only so much sport you can watch in a day and although I’ve taken to lounging on the sofa, with the remote control at the ready, like a duck to water even I have found it challenging.
As I read the ‘paper (sic) my thoughts took me back forty-three years ago to probably one of the best jobs I ever had.
At that time I was working for the Daily Sketch which, at the time was Britain’s oldest tabloid national newspaper. It had struggled for quite a few years to compete with the Daily Mirror and then had to contend with The Sun which had been purchased a few years earlier by a very young Rupert Murdoch.
The owners , Harmsworth Publications (subsequently to become Associated Newspapers) took the decision that they would close the ‘Sketch and merge it with their other national daily the newspaper, the Daily Mail.
I was offered the opportunity of transferring to the surviving newspaper but when I found out that I would get £365 severance (redundancy) pay – I wasn’t quite twenty-one at the time – this seemed like a king’s ransom to me. So I decided to take the money and head off to mainland Europe to ‘bum around’ until the money ran out.
The company asked me to stay on for a month after the closure of the ‘Sketch to help effect a smooth change-over (why they should have thought that a twenty year old could help with this I will never know!) and I agreed (extra money for my European ‘jolly’ I thought) so didn’t end my employment until 11 June.
I was at home the following week busily making preparations for my trip when the ‘phone rang. It was the head office of the union (in those days you couldn’t work for a newspaper unless you were a member of the ‘appropriate’ union). I was a member of NATSOPA. “Did I want a short term job?” “Doing what, where?” I replied. ” At the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship, filing copy for the Evening Standard’s tennis correspondent.” It took me all of twenty seconds to blurt out “Yes please. When do I start”.
For the life of me I cannot remember what the pay was but it wasn’t bad and they paid my travelling expenses and gave me a daily subsistence allowance. The real perk though was that I got free entry to Wimbledon. No queuing. A place to watch at every court (and I think that there were nineteen of them). And yes, this included the Centre Court.
From memory I had to phone in copy written by a sports journalist by the name of Barry Newcombe (in ‘his’ day he was one of the top tennis correspondents in the UK) four times a day (editorial deadlines were so much earlier before the introduction of computerisation) and then the time was my own. Free to wander from court to court. And getting paid for it!
I watched enthralled ,and perhaps a little love struck, as the young Aboriginal, Evonne Goolagong, majestically swept all of her opponents aside as she gracefully moved around the court displaying grace and power.
It’s wonderful how you can travel – and back in time – with just an injection of caffeine and the stillness of the morning. Memories are made of this!
What’s this got to do with Belize, and Ambergris Caye in particular? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Oh, by the way, I never did get to ‘bum around’ in Europe. I was offered a job on The Sun. And I took it. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I can’t sit in the chair dreaming all day though and have been tackling the weeds in the garden. It’s hot work and I’ve realised (it took me a while I’m sorry to say) that its best to tackle it early in the morning. So I’ve been starting at around 06.00/07.00 hours and ‘going at it’ for three hour stints.
It took me three such sessions to clear the weeds (roots included wherever possible) and I’m now sitting around waiting for them to grow again!
A (nearly – couldn’t get them all out) weed free south-east corner of the front garden.
Not a lot to show for so much back breaking (slight exaggeration) effort.
The area in front of the front fence looks nice and tidy though.
Talking of memories I’m sure that those of you that either live on or visit Ambergris Caye will have at some time frequented the little food stand in Barrier Reef Drive (front street). You know, the one near the corner of Pelican Street.
Well you won’t be going there any more. It’s gone. Razed to the ground.
Work has already started on the office for the scooter rental company that will be opening soon.
And as one business closes another one opens. Many of you will remember Fido’s South, or the Sandbar as it subsequently became. Well, following a major refurbishment, it’s now the ‘home’ of Island Time Beach Bar and is being operated by Ruth and Graham Verralls who previously managed Caribbean Villas Hotel. Worth a visit when you are ‘down’ south.
Anyway, got to bring this edition to a close because I’m going fishing!
The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1956 by Dean Martin which reached number one in both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.