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motioned to our friend to step this way. ‘Sir,’ he beamed, ‘there has clearly been a cock-up. How would you feel if I upgraded you to first class and gave you as much wine as you liked?’
Our friend had a most comfortable journey…
★ Great Bores of Today ★ No.41
‘…it’s just amazing all the stuff I’ve got up here some of it goes back to the days when I was a lad like you my dad gave me that bat when I was your age incredible that box is full of my old school magazines I kept every one of them and that’s our old radiogram I don’t suppose that means anything to you and over there is my grandmother’s old writing desk which stood by the fireplace in her living room it’s lost a leg somewhere along the line and look here’s the brass table the wife and I brought back from Morocco in 1958 it must have been…’
© Fant and Dick
Tips for Meanies Not everyone is lucky enough to cohabit with a cat, so many Meanies have yet to discover the flexible uses of cat litter. Yet what a multi-tasker this unassuming product can be. Odourless, yet odour-removing, cat litter is invaluable when sprinkled in a layer at the bottom of the kitchen bin. A small container of litter will remove smells in a fridge and it also works as a powerful deodorant in shoes that need attention. If faced with a large-scale liquid spill, you will find a single sack of cat litter can absorb more than a gallon of oil, paint or petrol.
second-class compartment, where the signs clearly indicated that none of the four seats had been reserved. Within seconds he was assailed by four formidable ladies, who claimed that they had reserved the table. Somewhat nonplussed, our informer pointed to the ‘vacant’ signs. This was greeted with a hostile response. Just when things looked as though they might become heated, the ticket collector – or ‘train manager’ as they are now called – made a timely appearance. He
Mine of information A veteran health campaigner claims he has been censored as the main expert witness at a public inquiry into a plan to start open-cast mining close to the Welsh hamlet of Varteg.
Dr Dick van Steenis objected to the original application put in to Torfaen council on health grounds, pointing out that it breached Welsh Assembly guidelines. These guidelines state that there must be a buffer zone of at least 500 metres between a mining operation and the nearest populated area. The proposed works would be only 60 metres from the nearest houses and less than 200 metres from a primary school.
The retired GP is opposed to open-cast mining for the same reason that he campaigns against waste incinerators – it emits tiny particles known as PM1s and PM2.5s which are dangerous to health because they contain toxic substances and can be breathed in (as detailed in last September’s diary).
The application was refused but developer Glamorgan Power appealed and there is to be a public inquiry later this month. Two elderly ladies living in Varteg have asked Dr van Steenis to be their expert witness at the inquiry.
How will he fare? The signs are not good for the 76-year-old campaigner – he has been told that some vital paperwork he’d submitted to the pre-hearing will not be accepted as evidence. This included references to his recent visits to Australia to
8 THE OLDIE – February 2012 D I A R Y
Voice from the Grave ‘There came boom and bust, bankruptcy, depression. Great public thieves came along and picked the pockets of everyone who had a pocket.’
John Steinbeck writing about the year 1900 in EastofEden(1952)
£25 for published contributions advise on the effects of opencast mining on health, which resulted in New South Wales turning down one scheme and Queensland ruling that there must be a buffer zone of at least two kilometres around open-cast mining operations in populated areas to safeguard people’s health. Dr van Steenis said: ‘New South Wales did lung tests in 800 children which proved what I was saying. Lung function is down 20 per cent in children living two miles from an opencast mine. It’s like a judge saying he’s not going to listen to the expert witness at a trial.’
Dr van Steenis may yet stop the mine – 18 out of the 20 schemes for open-cast mines that he has been involved with so far have been overturned.
Hanratty campaign This April marks the fiftieth anniversary of the execution of James Hanratty for the notorious A6 murder. While that might make it old news for some, others keep plugging away to prove that Hanratty was innocent of the murder.
Norma Buddle first became interested in the case in 1962 when her mother told her that an innocent man was to be hanged. Two decades later her parents moved to Prestatyn, the neighbouring town to Rhyl, where Hanratty always maintained he had been at the time of the murder. It was during a stay at her parents’ bungalow that Norma came across
Paul Foot’s book, Who Killed Hanratty? ‘I had met Paul Foot in the 70s at a political meeting and heard him speak many times, so I was very intrigued to discover he had written this wonderfully researched book on the Hanratty case,’ says Norma.
When she asked if she could borrow the book, one of the librarians came over to discuss the case. ‘She had gone to school with Ivy Vincent’s daughter and had lived close to Mrs Jones, Betty Davies and Margaret Walker [together with Ivy Vincent these were Rhyl witnesses who had confirmed Hanratty’s alibi] and knew them all very well. She was at pains to point out what decent people they all were – a view echoed throughout my research among the small community of people still left in Rhyl who remember the case.’
Inspired by her findings, Norma has now put together three painstakingly researched booklets on the case that bring together evidence discovered by journalists and authors. She is now planning a fourth booklet to coincide with the anniversary of Hanratty’s hanging. This will cover the 2002 Hanratty appeal and the DNA evidence used by the prosecution. As we have previously reported, the Hanratty family’s solicitor,
J U N E A N D G E R A L D b y N A F
Not many dead
Important stories you may have missed
Parts of England suffering from drought have been warned that those conditions will continue into the summer if there is insufficient rain this coming winter. BBC Radio 2 news
A 35-year-old man will appear in court today charged with eating a page of a police officer’s notebook. The Oxford Times
The town council’s community and civic resources committee discussed whether there should be corporate wear for female councillors but decided not to buy scarves for female councillors. Marlborough &Pewsey
A Christmas tree intended for a town centre display was reported stolen yesterday – but was discovered to have been moved to a storage depot for safekeeping.
£25 for published contributions
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, hopes to get the case referred back to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that there are new doubts over the DNA evidence.
You can buyNormaBuddle’s booklets for £3 each from Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, London N1, or online at www.housmans.com/books.php
Gazumping with heart A cheering story for these
February 2012 – THE OLDIE 9