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Thursday April 14, 1977

A usual sort of day. Collected my weekly pennies at lunchtime. When I say pennies I'm not being silly either. Bugger all at work. Boring and uninteresting in fact. I feel quite normal which is strange considering the excesses of last night.

The Queen, by Annigoni
See in the paper that a programme on the Queen's Silver Jubilee visit to the Commonwealth is to be broadcast by the BBC tonight  and I realise that a horrible decision is going to have to be made. Yes, can a true royalist actually go out to the pub in the knowledge that Her Sovereign Majesty is to be seen, in all her glory, on the telly? What a dilema I am faced with. Yesterday I made a promise to go out with Martyn and Tony tonight and would it be right for me to go back on my word and break this contract?  What would her Majesty's wishes be if it fell my lot to be so honoured by her presence at this agonising moment of indecision? On my knees before my tiny yet masterly portrait of HM by Annigoni I ask for some divine solution to my heart searching problem. As if from the heavens above a pealing voice fills the room saying: "Go forth my son and take refreshment with thy friends". So, I did. Can't say I was thrilled by it though. I suffered all the evening from pangs of remorse and horror at whether I'd made the right decision. My lager lost that pleasant bouquet. The comfort of the Hare and Hounds took on the aura of Tyburn gaol, and the gathering therein looked dull and lifeless.

Judith and Kathryn sat drinking wine. How many different ways can a man spell Kathryn? Or more importantly which one adorns itself to the person of Miss K. Young? Katherine? Katharine? Catherine? Kathryn?

We go on to the Crown at Yeadon which is rotten. Who the hell told me it was a great pub? See Philip Knowles, and then espy CB. She says she'll call me. We go for fish and chips. Tony goes on ________.
Playing at ventriloquists and dummies.
No comment.

Back to the Hare where Miss Young sits upon my knee and we play at ventriloquists and dummies. She recites the alphabet in a strangled dummy voice whilst I drain a pint of that lifeless lager.


Wednesday April 13, 1977

To be honest with you I fully intended sitting by my fireside tonight with a good book and a mug of cocoa, but circumstances changed. CB rang at 6.30 feeling miserable and saying she has something of interest to tell me. I ask he "what?" and she responds "Oh, I'll tell you tonight at half past eight in the Hare". Bang went my cosy, domestic family evening by a warm telly.

CB: Pontins bound
Mum gave me a lift down to the Hare at 8.15. Judith is propping up a gin and tonic. Oh God, both Judith and CB in one evening. Talk about God, religion, ghosts, our reason for living - all very seriously. Judith believes in nothing at all, and when CB comes in she's like Judith and says only the weak need to believe in anything. Crap, I say. CB says she's resigned from Mothercare and is considering moving to Bournemouth to work at Pontins (holiday camp). Arrghh. She looks pale and drinks too much and then disappears to Oakwood Hall with a mysterious character at 10.30 saying "thanks Mig, and thanks for trying to cheer me up". Bye Bye Darling. Do you know I worship that girl? I'm so glad she didn't go out with Chris last Wednesday. I hate to see her looking bored.

Judith:  joint novel?
Judith and I were joined by Tony at 10pm. He takes us back to Bedside Manor. I was a bit pissed having supped lager and even Pernod in the Hare. At Judith's we discuss writing a novel jointly and have a glass of nauseating Noilly (Prat). Whilst discussing our novel we try to tip the Noilly back into its bottle and then start on the real hard stuff - yer actual McCoy. Me whisky and Judith gin. Pissed up for sure by 2am. Slumped on a rug reading a book about the Goons and the Concordance to Shakespeare. Judith points out that whenever we get together we end up on the floor surrounded by empty bottles. She's so right. Stagger out into the rain at 3am and borrow Judith's Papa's umberella. Get home and banging around I waken Mum. She moans about "coming in at this hour when you're working" &c. Good old Mama. I think the world of her.


Tuesday April 12, 1977

Dreadful day back at the YP. My eye-balls ached all day long and it took Lord Home-type will power to keep them open throughout the whole tiresome charade. Yes, I am feeling rotten.
Uncle Harry and JPH

Argue with Mum about Uncle Harry. I will not accept that he is alcoholic. Drunkard maybe (if there's a difference) but not a alcoholic. Mum hits the roof and says I should not defend him because it's my type who encourages him to be what he is, but I refuse to stand down and say she's making mountains out of Ilkley Moor. He may neglect himself and be a trifle squalid, but it goes too far to give him such a label. We became quite heated and violent about the whole issue. Regrettable really. Good Old Mum - she means well and has Harry's best interests at heart but why does everything have to be so melodramatic and serious?

Out with Tony and Martyn to the Hare, Half Moon and Fox & Hounds. They've been to Scotland with Linda and Ruth. Martyn says he's ____________________. I find boasting about sex grotesquely childish. Tony didn't say much.  He's still ________________.Home at 10.30 thinking I'm being made fun of.  Arranged with Martyn to go out with him and Gayle - me escorting Emu, or whatever her name is. They were amazed I'd consider such a thing.


Monday April 11, 1977

Bank Holiday in England, Ireland and Wales. Last night  was ghastly. Feathers abounded and my poor lungs almost gave way to it all. Gasping and wheezing my way through a Bank Holiday is hardly what you'd call enjoyment, but I suppose it's better than being at the Yorkshire Post.

The morn is warm and sunny and the birds are singing gaily. In fact I accidentally kicked a sparrow off it's feet thinking it was a stone. What's wrong with the bird-life in Cumbria? Our feathered friends in Yorkshire wouldn't let you do such a thing.

Breakfast again consisted of eggs, sausages and the lot. Have a laugh with Maria about her half-cast Irish accent. She has a good sense of humour for sure, and the weight is falling off her. A slip of a girl in fact.

A photographic session outside the accursed Kell Head (pub) and then whilst I'm inspecting the urinals John, Sue, Peter and the baby disappear down a lane on some sort of nature trail. I gave chase and after 10 minutes I found them hiding in a field in the hope that I'd walk merrily past and fade away over the horizon. They had even gone to the trouble of lifting John (baby version) in his pram over a five barred gate and into a derelict barn to perfect the dastardly scheme. Swines that they are.

The party arrives from Uncle H's abode and Mum pays her bill. She was still fuming about last night's snub. Lynn laughed and said that Susan resorted to smoking in bed to calm the violence of her temper over the 10.30 closing horror. The offending cigarettes were borrowed from Mrs Maria Rhodes.

Hurriedly pack and within half an hour we're back on the road to St Bees - in somewhat more clement circumstances than yesterday. I take off shoes and roll up trousers and hurtle myself in the direction of the sea. Maria likens my prancing over the sands to that of a frisky stallion. A photographic session followed as the clan gathered 'neath a concrete barrier in the weak sunshine. Memorable it was.

Fish and chips back at Uncle Harry's and at 3pm we're on the trek homeward. Me, Mum, Dad, John, Maria and baby in one car, and the others with Peter. Stopped off at the Anchor Inn again but otherwise it was straight home. The usual Bank Holiday traffic jams but that can only be expected. On a starving rampage on my arrival home. The Cumbrian sea air must have brought it on because I just could not stop eating. Beans on toast, cheese, jam, buns, cream crackers, &c. You name it, pal, I ate it tonight.


Sunday April 10, 1977

Easter Day. Raining at first, but brighter later. Woke up with an incredible hangover. Have I died in my sleep? Feel really grotty at first. A run up the garden to the (Kell Head) pub and a dip in the bathroom followed by eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread &c &c rejuvenated me greatly and by half past eleven I was quite ready for anything. The rain proves no deterrent and the whole party sets off in a convoy for St Bees. Yes, the seaside. A quick dash in the drizzle on the 'front' by most of the party was enough but for the more adventurous the call of the pub proved irresistible.

Have a few drinks with Uncle Harry who tells me that once (during the war) he worked down the pit. Yes, a miner no less. I didn't know that. Mum sat in the car, closeted with JPH, and was thoroughly enjoying it by the look on her face. How long is it since we had a baby with us at the seaside? Must have been when Susan was in nappies. The rain was pounding in St Bees and following a Cabinet meeting in the pub comes the announcement that the party will adjourn to the Nethertown HQ. However, on our return to H's caravan the sun  broke from behind a cloud and cascaded down upon us. We danced in a frenzied mob on the Nethertown beach and hurled pebbles at one another. Cameras came out too. Baby was pushed up and down in his pram and some of the boys found solace in crab murdering. Papa stood gazing out to see, in dark spectacles, like Fidel Castro. Isn't it strange how salty sea air works up a thirst in young men?

Back to the Kell Head for a couple of hours. Plenty of Elvis Presley and egg mayonnaise sandwiches too. All quite pissed we were - again. Then back to the Nethertown encampment. Blimey, it's up and down like a yoyo isn't it? See Lord Grade's 'Jesus of Nazareth' on Uncle H's minute tv set and prepare ... yes, you've guessed it return to a certain pub presided over by a certain fat barmaid. The Kell Head again. For some reason, probably because of the fact that it's Easter Sunday, a sobering influence hangs over the lounge of the above mentioned tavern. Uncle Harry isn't three sheets in the wind. All very distressing, eh? At 10.30, when I'm just about to settle down and start some serious drinking 'Big Jean' drops a bombshell upon us. "I'm closing on time tonight, Ducks", she calmly announces. Mum especially looked horribly pained and I had to offer assistance to John who came over all faint. Big, horrible Fat Jean has no right to do such a thing. Don't patrons have rights? Are we to be walked upon as though we're in the Soviet Union? No, No, No. But yes. Back to the caravan for a French-cut (pyjama) party with Dave and Pete. Didn't really feel like drinking at all and sat watching the light ale running away.


Saturday April 9, 1977

One of those horrible mornings when one wishes one had remained in ones bedroom. A nice sunny day true enough, but the chaos and pandemonium and general escalation of activity due to our forthcoming departure north for Easter took away the elation and joy.

Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife
I sat reading the morning papers amid the panic of suitcase packing. Princess Anne is the main topic in the press. Will the Queen's grandchild be Master or Miss Phillips, or will the Cap'n be forced into accepting an earldom, marquesate, or even a dukedom? I've read in the papers that no precedent exists for a monarch to bestow a title upon a grandchild by-passing the parents. But in fact the granddaughters of King Edward VII (daughters of the Princess Royal, Duchess of Fife) were created Princesses in 1905. Here's the citation coming up: "King Edward VII was pleased to declare on Nov 9, 1905 that his daughter, HRH The Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife should bear the title Princess Royal, and that her daughters should bear the title of Princess with the qualification of Highness, and should rank immediately after all members of the Royal Family bearing the style of Royal Highness." Why not make Anne Princess Royal and  create all her children Princes or Princesses as indeed the offspring of Charles, Andrew and Edward will be? This would solve all the petty problems of peerages, honourables and such like.

To Cumbria at 1.30 or so stopping at the Anchor Inn at Skipton (sic) on the way. Mum, Dad, Lynn, Dave, Sue, Peter, John, Maria, JPH,  and me. Ten of us. Get to Uncle H's before 5. He's pissed out of his mind and cooking a diabolical meal for us. We all eat grinning all over our faces. The Yorkshire puddings were like nothing on earth. All go to the Kell Head pub which is in the middle on nowhere. (2 miles from Egremont and St Bees), where all except Mum, Dad and Harry are to pass the next couple of nights. By 7.30 we're all in the bar. The baby hates the place and he cried and screamed until midnight. I don't think the little fellow appreciated the juke-box the sound of which vibrated on his bedroom floor. We all sat there until about 2am. The 'landlady' - call her what you will - is affectionately known as 'Big Jean' Sherwen. Never a more repulsive woman could you wish to lay eyes on. A horror indeed. All pissed up and singing. Dave, Pete and I in a caravan in the garden. Dave wears 'French cut' pyjamas - what he does in the privacy of his bedroom is no concern of mine, but I cannot help marveling at them. Die laughing in fact.