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Monday, 17 October 2011

A gadgie Ramble  October 14th

   There has been a gadgie walk this week, of a sort. Harry has family staying, Dave is visiting family,Ben  is still away, Herbie seems to have disappeared to live in Greggs and I have been very much off colour. This left Ray and Brian who went off to count the fish and chip shops between Craster and Seahouses.
     Last week I met a man I had been to college with. He had been a teacher and a warden  in an Outdoor Centre in Northumberland before cuts forced the county to close its centres, thus depriving many young people of some outdoor experience. He now works for, or maybe owns or is a partner in a small printing company in Wooler. He told me that Peter Clark, author of Where the Hills Meet the Sky, a book about wartime crashes in the Cheviots, had died earlier this year but that his books were still available. (see Hen Hole  September 23rd walk) Curious I looked up http://www.glengraphics.co.uk/ and found a good catalogue of small books about the region. Some local history, some local walks and local photographs. As you do when surfing I looked for links and quickly found http://www.cheviotwalks.co.uk/.  This site has a host of Cheviot walks, extremely well  described, with far more detail and information than I give. Written and illustrated by Geoff Holland they are a must for anybody wanting a more serious guide to a walk. I recommend them.


                                                                       Brian suggested I add pen portraits of the gadgie crew, so here  are most of us.  From left to right:
John Lockey, Brian Algar, Dave Kear, Harry Nagel and Herbie Tonge. Naturally I am missing, I took the photograph and have not mastered the self timer,
      






John Lockey is, at he moment, an occasional gadgie because he has to work to pay for his daughter's wedding. John is an electrician by trade, probably an electrical engineer. He probably could do the proverbial and sell a refrigerator to an eskimo. He is also a Makem, * but we try not to hold it against him.

Brian Algar has a degree in agriculture from the University of Newcastle, so he taught IT. He has a gift for puns and a love of bacon sandwiches and beer .

Dave Kear is the archaeologist and has been doing a course at Newcastle University for the last twenty years  called the Quternary. Even the lecturer has forgotten what it is about.Dave is very good at bird recognition and pretty good with flowers too. He is a big ALDI fan and I think in this photograph he is wearing ALDI boots. He is very keen on pedometers and has six. Also has an unused camera.

Harry Nagel started his working life with Parsons, manufacturers of electrical generators to the world. He gave it all up to lecture in engineering at a local college. Parsons was taken over by Siemens and more or less closed down as a result. Good photographer too.

Herbie Tonge has been just about everything; merchant seaman and teacher of bad boys are the jobs he talks most about. Takes thousands of photographs but nobody ever sees them. Very fond of food but remains slim.

Ray Craven is a sociologist by trade and worked in college with Brian, Harry and John. Not the most regular of gadgies but fully qualified and always welcome for his dashing good looks and merry tales of debauchery.

Ben Hull was a motor mechanic and is a fine runner. He accompanies celebrities on the Great North Run, wearing a bright yellow outfit so the cameras can pick him and his celeb out. Sometimes I think he could be more interesting to interview than the person he runs with.

And this is a photograph of me at the controls of a 3000 tonne coal cutting machine in Czechia. Yes I am in the yellow cab at the end of the arm and of course it wasn't working. Who would trust me with a 3000tonne coal cutter? I certainly wouldn't.
    I used to work as a teacher, in high schools, although many people, with some justification, would say I never worked a day in my life.

    As a child I had wanted to be an opera singer. In my first music lesson at Grammar School in September 1955 we were required by the teacher to come to the front of the school hall and sing up a scale as he played the piano. I was terrified and my voice cracked and I was told to sit down. When everybody, boys and girls had had their turn he stood in front of the class and said, "You all have good voices, apart from you", pointing straight at me. I never sang in the bastard's lessons again but was inspired by the moment to give up my ambition to be an opera singer and take up teaching and never be rotten to kids. The bit about the music lesson is true. I made the rest up.

    My best ever teacher was Mrs. Whitehead who took us in Standard 2 at Junior school. In these progressive times it would be called year 4. Because of the post war bulge our school was so overcrowded that some classes were held in the Parish Hall. Mrs Whitehead's class was upstairs in the room that was used in the evenings for scouts and guides, on different nights of course, this was 1952. She taught us everything of importance, how eskimos lived in their umiaks, how Africans rode British made bicycles through the jungle and how Mongolians lived in yurts. Years later, walking into a room in the Museum of Ethnography or something in St. Petersburg I saw my first yurt. (Just to remind you I have travelled, a bit) It took me straight back to our classroom in the Parish Hall and Mrs Whitehead. She wasn't too good on the Ten Commandments though. It was a church school and so we got our daily dose of Anglican theology. One day she was explaining the Commandments and got as far as "Thou Shalt not commit adultery". She told us it meant you were not to lie. A little hand at the back of the room went up and a voice said, "Please Mrs. Whitehead, we've already had that one. "
"Yes Michael, " she replied, "but this means really big lies."
Remember this was well before sex was invented in the 1960s.

* A makem is a person from Sunderland. The exact origins of the phrase "Makem and Takem" are obscure. One possibility is that ships were made in Sunderland and brought to Tyneside to have their engines fitted, Hence you "Makem" and we "Takem".