Monday, 26 January 2015

Winmarleigh Hall

I have arrived at, and begun working for, PGL! (Actually I arrived last Thursday, but there is limited internet). I am now based at Winmarleigh Hall, in Lancashire. It's a classic old English mansion house with wood panelling, a tower (of sorts) and many, many rooms. Apart from that there're are few other buildings and lots of trees and not much else for some distance!

The kids don't arrive for another week, so for the moment it's lots of training and meeting people (I'm still working on that) before the real madness begins!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


I am British: Midlands born and raised, with four years of southern influence and now heading north.

Tomorrow I drive to Lancashire to begin my new job as an activity instructor with PGL - that means helping kids to climb up big, wooden ladders and then jump off, and other similar pursuits (with an educational twist every now and then)!

Watch out for new stories of my adventures in the north coming soon!

High up on my playlist right now is Heroes by Alesso, which contains these lines:

Everyday people do
Everyday things but I
Can't be one of them.
Sorry if you're feeling envious, it's just the way it goes. I could be a hero, although...
                                                                                                     I'm still working on that.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Small Town Robbery

It had been one of those dull days, and Sergeant Banks who was in charge at Winston Police Station was already on his third cup of coffee of the afternoon. Winston is a sleepy place; a commuter town with a declining number of shops and a growing number of cafes. Most week days the town is fairly quiet and Banks was enjoying the peace by reading a book and not expecting to be disturbed. So it came as quite a shock when he picked up the station telephone, to hear a scared young woman telling him there was an armed robbery at Seaton Internet Café Lounge.
            Slow though his day had been so far Banks moved quickly into action. He pressed the bell on his desk to alert the squad on duty and then ran to get his deputy. Outside the police cars, who had sat dozily in line for many days now, were suddenly revved into life as people swarmed from the building. Banks was the last out of the door, and turned sharply to yell back, “Get the Chief Inspector down here now Suzy,” at his secretary.
            Soon three cars could be heard buzzing their way noisily up the street, while vehicles and pedestrians scrambled to get out of the way, wondering what on earth the matter could be. Up at the Café however all was calm as the stout manager stood over the unfortunate, would-be intruder.

Fifteen minutes before, a dozen guests had been happily sipping their drinks, while the manager, Bob Tay, hummed along to a tune on the radio and his young employee, Sophie, emptied the dish washer in the back kitchen. Suddenly there’d been a crash as a teenager burst through the door and ran up to the bar shouting that he had a gun. His hand was held tightly inside his jacket pocket and Bob had clearly seen the curved outline through the material, which was obviously the young man’s intention.
            “Empty the till,” the youth had yelled, “give me all your money.”
            “We haven’t got much,” stammered the shocked manager.
            “Just bag up everything or I’ll shoot you.”
            Bob glanced again at the pocket and decided he’d better do as he’d been told. Slowly he’d opened the register and started scooping the money into a plastic bag.
            It was at this point that two things had occurred to two different people. The first was that Sophie, who was still in the kitchen, decided it would be a good idea to call the police and a Mr Hadley, who was sat at a table, realised that something didn’t seem right.
            The youth’s attention was on the till so Mr Hadley got quietly to his feet and signalled another man on the other side of the room to follow him. Silently they came up behind the assailant who realised just before they reached him. He spun round and shouted, “Stop or I’ll shoot.”
            “No I don’t think you will,” said a calm Mr Hadley to the surprise of everyone, “or you would have done it straight away and moreover because you haven’t got a gun.”
            The youth was still a moment then made to strike Mr Hadley with his free hand, but before he could the other man grabbed him and slung him to the floor. Defeated the failed robber lay still realising the game was up.
            “So,” said Mr Hadley as Bob Tay came from behind the counter, “what do you have in there?” He reached down and felt in the pocket before pulling out a fresh banana. He laughed and chucked it back to the boy, who grinned too and, with little else to do, ate it.
For a second time the door crashed open and a voice shouted, “Police, freeze.”
            “Too late,” called back Mr Hadley, “but thanks for coming anyway.”
            “What’s going on?” said Sergeant Banks marching up to the counter.
            “We were being robbed by this youth,” answered Bob, “but Mr Hadley here realised he was only holding a banana, instead of a gun.”
            “What banana?” asked the Sergeant.
            “Well he’s eaten it now,” replied Mr Hadley.
            “Oh dear,” laughed Banks at the youth, “well we’ll have to charge you on destroying the evidence. I don’t suppose we could get you on armed robbery!”

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Greatest Sporting Contest Never Told

Paris 1900 - The Games of the II Olympiad

Thursday, 28th June

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen. It has been an enthralling day here at the Croquet one-ball singles tournament and now the climax fast approaches as we reach the final of the competition.

There is just time for me to run down the events of the day in case you have missed them. It began this morning with 9 competitors. There was a strong field from the French team who submitted no fewer than 8 players, while the other contestant, Marcel Haentjens, came from Belgium. Sadly he was one of 5 who was eliminated in the first round, along with all 3 of the female contestants. Waydelich played superbly and finished first with an excellent score of 11. Also progressing to the second round were Johin, Blachère and Aumoitte.

The second round was a close fought battle all the way through and tempers occasionally spilled over, so great was the tension. There was also some controversy when Waydelich accused Johin of moving his ball with his foot. In the end, however, it was Johin who triumphed with a score of 16, ahead of Aumoitte on 18.

So after all the excitement throughout the day, we come at last to the Gold Medal Match and it's Frenchman versus Frenchman here in Paris.

As Johin and Aumoitte appear from the Pavilion and begin their warm ups the atmosphere goes up a notch. A near silence descends over the field and the crowd is visibly tense. I can see a man on the far side who, it seems, is already finding it hard to watch, preferring instead to reread this morning's newspaper. There's a Union Flag draped across his shoulders, and I must say it's excellent to see that the neutrals have turned up to support this event. In fact it's excellent that he is here at all because currently he's the only spectator, but never mind that, we are almost ready for the start of this grand final.

Sadly at this point, for unknown reasons the broadcast was cut off and didn't return for some time. It did, though, start up again just in time for listeners to hear:

HE'S DONE IT! Aumoitte has swept away the challenge of Johin and finishes victorious at 15-21. He raises both arms aloft and pumps the air with his mallet, it's a fantastic sight. Now he goes across to shake hands with Johin. Our English spectator over there is giving Aumoitte a standing ovation. Oh, no, actually he's just leaving.

Well on that note I suppose it's time to end this broadcast of the Croquet one-ball singles championship where Gaston Aumoitte has claimed the Gold Medal. Congratulations to him, I suppose he'll be back in 4 years to defend his title of Olympic Champion, I hope you'll join us again then too. Till next time, goodbye!

Sadly the Olympic Committee decided that Croquet would not feature at the III Olympiad in St Louis, although some Americanised event called Roque, featured instead, so Aumoitte remains the undefeated Croquet champion. He also won gold in the doubles competition alongside Johin, although there is some doubt that there was actually any competition (it's unclear if second place was ever awarded).

Most of the events described are true and to be honest I'm disappointed it didn't make a come back at London 2012, but there's always next time!

Croquet at the 1900 Olympic tournament