DEC 10 Little memories of a seaside childhood
– A trip to Nottingham
I was beginning to enjoy the hobby of amateur dramatics, and especially the light operas of “Gilbert and Sullivan”—although I was unable to read music- with all those little dots and funny squiggles! It is amazing how well and how fast some of the wonderful people who are able to understand these symbols can translate them into some of the most splendid sounds that have ever graced the human ears. However I found that I could easily pick up the notes if I was close to a person who could, and for this, I was soon accepted into the “bass” section of the society.
One evening we were informed that a visit was being organised to travel to Nottingham, and witness an outside, evening live performance of “Yeomen of the Guard” suitably staged in the grounds of Nottingham Castle—A “Son et Lumiere” production, and in order to be able to see this we were to stay in a hotel for an evening, returning to Norfolk the next day. I decided to go with the society.
I was collected early in the required morning, and joined several others in a large luxury limousine, and we were soon speeding towards our destination.
We were booked into a lovely hotel, named the “Albany”, and I soon found out how its name was achieved, as all the fittings in the bedrooms were white. I settled in, and soon found out how every utensil worked, then made my way down to the bar, where I found several other members of our Society.
As in every society, there are members who are rather interested in making enjoyment out of any situation, and soon two of us discovered that the lifts in the foyer operated by sensors-so that the indicators to operate the machine didn’t have to be actually touched. Very soon, the lift floor indicators were bobbing up and down similarly to a thermometer that has been quickly dipped in hot water, then ice. We tried to get both lifts to stop at the same levels, but our success was impeded by an official person who politely told us to cease the operation, and go somewhere else. We returned to the bar.
Several refreshing glasses later, we travelled to the Castle, and, thankfully that the weather was fine, we were treated to a splendid rendering of the famous operetta, by the local players, after which we returned to the hotel and the bar.
It was quite late when we decided to retire to our rooms, and then it was suddenly realised that the girlfriend of one of the leading soloists had mistakenly been assigned to my room instead of his, and although I gently protested that I was quite happy with the arrangement as it was, the leading soloist would have none of it, and insisted that she returned to his room, at all speed. We then settled down for the night.
Breakfast in the hotel dining area was excellent, and we sat and enjoyed it, however another leading soloist was absent, and I decided to make a quick phone call to ascertain the situation. The reply was a short one, and I returned to the dining area, announcing that our friend was ok, but due to the evenings imbibing was unfortunately detained by a sharp attack of diarrhoea. However, I put the information over a bit too bluntly and there was a clattering of breakfast utensils as some of the guests hurriedly left the room. Later, our unfortunate friend appeared and all was well, but announced afterwards that from that entrance everyone in the hotel knew the identity,-which was not really desired.
Later we vacated our rooms, and the bill being settled, we decided that as we had quite some time to spare, a visit to the Derbyshire “Blue John” crystal mines would be interesting, and we journeyed to investigate, seeing the famous “crooked spire” on the church as we passed. As the time was adequate, we decided to sample some of the local brew in a nearby pub before we visited the mine.
The famous blue crystal was obtained from a deep mine, and to get to the source it was necessary to have a guide, who not only made sure we had a reliable journey, but also informed us of the history, and the difficulties of obtaining it in earlier times. During the journey, he illustrated his talk by flicking off the lights to show that the miners had to use candles and small lamps to see their work. However on the extinguishing of the electric lighting, there was suddenly a series of cat-calls, and exclamations, not necessarily polite, but informing everyone, loudly, that the darkness was absolute. The elderly guide, quickly restored the lighting, informing everyone loudly in local dialect, that there was alcohol on some of the visitors.
As always at the entrance of the mines open to the public, a stall of souvenirs was provided, and we made use of this before we assembled, returned to our cars, and drove off homewards, to arrive later in the evening having enjoyed a very interesting visit.
At the next meeting of the society, everyone expressed the pleasure and enjoyment of the visit, and agreed that such visits should be included in the programme for future activities. However, it was quite some time before another excursion was mentioned in the society’s programme of social events.