Monday 24 December 2012

Sunday School and the Choir

No doubt because of the links between the Church and the School, (Kingsley Church of England School ), and therefore many joint ventures, it seemed quite normal for most children to join the Sunday School. This in turn lead smoothly into joining the church choir when children were considered old enough to do so, I don’t recall exactly when that was but I have an idea it was at the age of eight or nine.
School and Sunday School linked together for events at Easter, Mothering Sunday, Harvest Festival and Christmas in particular and the village fete and jumble sales etc. in general. In the case of the former it was a religious festival that brought them together and in the case of the latter, fund raising.
Sunday School took place in the Church, between services, and consisted, for the most part, of low key lessons on biblical stories and singing. The Sunday School teachers were ladies from within the Church community. They obviously made a great impression upon me because I can’t remember whom a single one of them was. I suppose we stopped going to Sunday School when we graduated to being members of the choir.
As far as I can recall, the choir membership and its activities were of rather more interest to most of us, but I am sorry to say, for all of the wrong reasons. In the first place, choir practice took place in the evening on, I think, Thursdays. This, of course, meant I and my friends were released from our homes and allowed out into the village. The practice itself lasted about an hour but we endeavored to leave home as far in advance of its start as we could. Equally we delayed our return after the completion of the practice for as long as that could be stretched without causing parents to come in search of us. I well recall how grown up we felt, particularly in the winter when the evenings were dark, by being out together without parents. This weekly escape increased in duration as we grew older and moved on from Kingsley School to the Secondary Modern in Alton. The choir was, of course, mixed and as we got older, the fact that girls were involved provided additional attractions.
During church services choir boys sat on one side of the aisle and girls on the other, in the case of All Saints, as one walks towards the altar, the girls were on the left and boys on the right. Being directly above the organ, the girls could be watched by the organist, Mrs. Inwood. Mrs. Inwood was also the choir mistress during the time I was a member. Her husband was a Church Warden and sat in the front pew on the left from where he glared at the choir boys.
The angelic faces of those young people clad in purple cassocks and white surplises belied the naughtiness and un-angelic behavior contained within. It was very much the norm for the boys to attempt to make the girls giggle and to this end we went to quite extraordinary lengths. Common in our arsenals were elastic bands, these could be easily concealed, but when stretched between two fingers provided a super little catapult more than capable of propelling a folded up roll of paper well into the ranks of the female singers. An additional benefit was the almost silent operation of these little tools. All that was need was to avoid Mr. Inwood’s gaze. For the most part the vicar had his back to us and did not represent a risk.
If our paper missiles managed to create an odd giggle from the girls this would be followed up by, what I believe, is known as gurning. Although not aware of this old rural pursuit at the time, it was effectively what we were doing. The aim of each of us was to pull such a ghastly face that the girls opposite would descend into uncontrollable fits of laughter. Fingers were pushed up nostrils and noses persuaded into grotesque shapes, mouths and tongues were all brought into service in order to achieve our aims. I first learned, in the Kingsley choir stalls, how to make my eyes go cross eyed, all in pursuit of causing the girls to giggle, and then receive the telling off from Mrs. Inwood.
On one occasion the boys of the choir brought with them, into the morning service, a selection of various coloured beer bottle tops. Together with these we had four inch nails. The bottle tops were arranged along the shelf in front of us designed to hold prayer and hymn books. During the playing of the organ,for hymns and psalms, we tapped the bottle tops with the nails to the beat of the music, poor old Inwood nearly had a heart attack. Another highly successful mode of giggle making was achieved by two or three boys at a time when they stuffed their handkerchief up one of their nostrils. The handkerchief would hang in place, dangling down the side of the face, and could be caused to swing and sway by sharp movements of the head. Invariably this did the trick and much giggling would be the result. Of course, once the giggling began the hapless girls had little chance of controlling it and the end result was red faces, coughing and a general break down of decorum. Needless to say, at the point of reckoning, that was when Mr. Inwood had reported us to the vicar, and, no doubt accused individuals of all sorts of heinous behavior, we all steadfastly denied any involvement in such matters.
As we progressed through the choir, for there was a progression of sorts, (servers and candle lighters), we became even more devious at” Inwood “ bating. In addition to the chief objective, of a pew full of giggling girls opposite, there evolved the subtle art of “Inwood “ bating. It became increasingly obvious to us all that Mr. Inwood had no sense of humour and furthermore he could be easily wound up. Unfortunately for Mr. Inwood he had an eye defect. One eye was normal and the other peered off at a rather acute angle. Therefore, at any given time, it was quite difficult to be sure exactly where, or whom, he was looking at. If this were not enough, when he got angry he got very fidgety and twisted and turned in his seat getting redder and redder in the face. Throughout this torment the poor fellow desperately tried to maintain his composure and the semblance of adherence to his devotions. On the other hand our aim was to disrupt them. It is quite extraordinary how affronted we were by Mr. Inwoods weekly attempts to get the vicar to give us a good roasting and how much this behavior on his part increased our resolve to bate him. It quickly became clear that our bating had, on the one hand, to be subtle and on the other to be effective. What we needed was a method which sufficiently offended Mr. Inwood and made the girls giggle without appearing to be overtly naughty or of bad behavior.
Young we may have been, innocent we were not. I am not quite sure how the solution evolved, but evolve it did and to devastating effect. It became clear to us that it was completely correct and indeed polite to agree with everything the vicar said. When he was preaching, when he was making public announcements or any other form of statement, we boys felt it was our absolute duty to agree or disagree with any and every thing he agreed or disagreed with. Simple! Here you have it lads; every time the vicar made a point the whole of the boys side of the choir stalls would nod furiously in agreement or shake their heads vigorously in disagreement, which ever was appropriate. The desired effect was achieved almost in an instant, girls were giggling uncontrollably and Inwood was in a lather, bingo!! Game, set, and match and how on earth could we be told off for listening intently to His Reverences every word and loyally expressing our support?
I rather imagine that today’s children do not join the village choir, if indeed there still is one, but I am confident they would be much better behaved if they did. Since this is December's offering may I take this opportunity to wish all of my readers and the people of Kingsley a very Happy and peaceful Christmas.

Friday 21 December 2012

21 December 2012

Today is a significant one.

Firstly it is the last day of the Mayan calendar and the Mayans were a comparatively smart bunch so some people think it probably means that the world will end today. They weren't really that smart though so maybe not. If you want, you could spend today making love with beautiful strangers, buying exotic sports cars on credit or telling your boss what you really think of him - maybe the Mayans were right after all!

It's also the winter solstice, the shortest day, the turning point towards spring and a festival far older than the johnny-come-lately "Christmas", "Hanukkah" and other religious inventions. The Romans were particularly fond of the solstice and came up with "Saturnalia" Originally held on December 17 that celebration became so popular it was extended to December 23rd. That was not surprising since the Saturnalia encouraged excessive indulgence in food, drink and sexual exploits. Schools were closed, citizens wore long hats, and played pranks upon each other in an atmosphere of public revelry. In a reversal of the old social order, masters served their slaves who, in turn, treated their owners with disrespect. Privately, families visited among themselves and exchanged small gifts.
Our calendars haven't always reflected our modern, scientific, understanding of why the sun kept disappearing in winter which is why the secondary festivals mostly take place on the wrong date but, whichever calendar we use, today will be the shortest day

Thursday 20 December 2012

Natural England, Three year review

DEFRA (Department for Ending Farming and Rural Anything) is conducting a Triennial Review of the Environment Agency and Natural England and inviting comments, criticism, praise and insults.

Anyone with an interest in the Environment Agency and Natural England is invited to respond to the discussion document by 4 February 2013.

I have nothing to say about the Environment Agency. They fined me for accidentally spilling diesel into the river Wey some years ago so they're probably mostly doing their stuff ok.

But then there's Natural England! Where to begin? What a complete waste of space, not to mention taxpayer money, civil liberties and sanity. The only sane comment anyone could make would be "abolish it immediately".

The purpose of Natural England (NE) as defined by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, is to: “ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development”.  Who could object to that?

Well, apart from the fact that all so-called conservation is pointless (four billion years of evolution have coped reasonably well without 'conservation'), you have only to consider their response to this planning application to realise that they're staffed by the usual bunch of up themselves, backside covering, leftie goons and are entirely incapable of achieving any sensible purpose. They should all be sent off on a ten year fact-finding mission to Mars.

I shall not be bothering to file that as an official comment because I don't believe that any input from anyone will alter the outcome but, if any of you feel like having a go, fill out this response form and send it in by 4th February

Monday 17 December 2012

Hampshire Jedi Knights

The Jedi Knights don't only live in East Hampshire, they're fairly evenly distributed throughout the county.

But the picture for the whole country shows a less even distribution. The south-east really is the home of the Jedi.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Country Market Osborne Farms

This application, 24601/039, seeking permission for


is marked as open for consultation until 10th January.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

East Hampshire Religion

According to the 2011 Census results, East Hampshire is still a Christian place with over 64% reporting their religion as Christian.  The second largest group was "no religion" reported by more than 26% followed by Islam with just over a third of 1%

One of the more interesting statistics is that the "no religion" figure includes 506 Jedi Knights.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Second Slowcoach

When you come up behind a 40mph driver on an open road do you smoothly and safely overtake him as soon as possible or do you become the "Second Slowcoach"?

A typical passenger car is 15-20ft long so overtaking a 40mph driver at 60mph will take around 12 seconds and 1,000ft of road. On a clear stretch of road, no junctions, driveways, sharp bends or oncoming traffic, in good conditions, that's quite manageable, quite safe.

Not everyone does that when they have the opportunity though and there isn't always a clear road either.  If the road's not clear then you have no choice but when it is clear and you choose to sit behind the leader, you become the problem.

Assuming the standard following distance of two seconds between the leader and second car, a third vehicle has to choose between overtaking both vehicles in one go or forcing himself into the gap between the two. The double overtake will now take about 24 seconds and cover 2000ft of road, well over a third of a mile, a much harder proposition.

This is the beginning of what most people call "traffic" as in "I'm stuck in traffic and can't get to work on time". Traffic isn't something you are stuck in, you are traffic!

Sometimes the slowcoach at the front of the queue is just a useless driver, sometimes they're slow for good reason, they might already be going as fast as they can.  The second slowcoach turns a mere inconvenience into a traffic jam; the second slowcoach is the main problem. Don't let that be you!

If you really can't bring yourself to overtake the leader, drop back, leave a bigger gap between you and the leader so that anyone wanting to overtake can make two simple passes instead of one dangerous one. It's all part of driving with due care and consideration.

Monday 3 December 2012

Eco-station exhibition this Saturday, 8th

The Eco-station and Exhibition House are proving really popular with residents and the next date for your diary is Saturday 8th December from 10am-1pm.

Free face painting and Christmas treats will also be available this Saturday

There has been a steady flow of visitors during Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and the Saturday events have been really busy. However, the late-night opening on Wednesdays from 5pm-7pm hasn’t been popular – so the community facility will close at 5pm on Wednesdays from 1st December. This will be kept under review.

The Eco-station and Exhibition House will close for Christmas from Friday 21st December and will reopen on Wednesday 2nd January.

The opening times from 1st December will be:

Mondays:        9am-5pm
Tuesdays:        By appointment
Wednesdays:   10am-5pm
Thursdays:       9am-5pm
Fridays:            By appointment
Saturdays         One per month

Cllr Glynis Watts, East Hampshire District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Whitehill & Bordon, said: “The Eco-station and Exhibition House are really popular with residents who are keen to find out more about the plans to regenerate the town.

“We have had school parties coming to look around and youngsters have been so impressed that they have come back after school with their brothers and sisters.

“This week the new community facilities are being visited by Guildford College and Highbury College and we have already had groups from Bordon Junior School and Mill Chase.

“What’s also been extremely encouraging is the number of positive comments that have been written in the visitors’ book.”