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Name Dropping

At a recent visit to Denis Pickles, with whom I have struck a friendship through these columns, we got round to name dropping of known personalities whom we have inadvertently either come across or met.

We swapped a few experiences and wondered if it might prove an awakening for the memories of other KBGS old Boys if we were to open a page on which you can share your experiences, and furthermore amuse.

I’m going to leave the rest to Denis to get this column moving with one of his own anecdotes about meeting a public, sporting or notable personage.

Get us started, Denis

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

When Terry dropped in a couple of weeks ago, the newspapers were carrying features relating to a new film which was due to be released. The film was a remake of 'Swallows and Amazons' and I had been reading each article with interest. Most of you will know that the original story concerns the adventures of four children on holiday in the Lake District. The book was one of a dozen or so children's books, written by Arthur Ransome in the 1930's and 40's. I used to scour the shelves of our local library hoping to find an Arthur Ransome book which I hadn't read and when I found one, I would devour it, reading the book avidly and looking at the illustrations which were line drawings executed by Ransome himself. Thinking about it, Arthur Ransome's drawings might have made me interested in drawing as well as kindling my imagination. He was the chap who was instrumental in introducing me to parts of England where I had never been - the Lake District, the Norfolk Broads and Suffolk. Yes! I was a great fan of Arthur Ransome. Still am I guess!

Fast forward sixteen years from 1944 to 1960. I was working in the Lake District. One day my duties took me out into the countryside to check on the purity of the many private water supplies which served scores of remote dwellings. The checks were carried out at random and the occupant of one of the cottages I selected, a smallish rotund gentleman with a walrus moustache, I recognised. It was my childhood hero - the famous Arthur Ransome and bustling around in the kitchen was his Russian wife, Evgenia, once the secretary to Trotsky! She said nothing much but I struck up quite a conversation with Mr. Ransome almost entirely about his books. He agreed to autograph my collection which I took back to his cottage at a later date. I still have them, signed 'Arthur Ransome' in red letters because he used a red biro! We talk about a special day being a 'Red Letter Day', defined as being pleasantly noteworthy or memorable. That was certainly one for me - in more ways than one.

Over the years I can think of several other Red Letter Days which I have had. When I worked in Burnley in the late 50's I used to meet up regularly with Sir Garfield Sobers, the West Indies cricketer before he became really famous. He was playing cricket in the Lancashire League and at the time, I thought nothing of it. I do now though! And I have played host to a world champion a few years back. That was of course the world champion whistler from Saddleworth. (Well, he was a world champion!). But for me, meeting up with Arthur Ransome that day in the Lakes was really something special!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norolk

Re: Name Dropping

As a young northern sports post-war enthusiast, (Yorkshire CC junior member at 10 and supporter of the Lawkholme Laners) , I watched the performances of Hutton; Hassett; Close; Miller; Eric Batten; Frank Whitcombe; Wardle; Laker; Boycott; Truman, Lindwall etc etc. These were personalities I viewed from afar in important contests - Ashes. RL Cup etc.

But I knew I was going to see them from the advanced published press details.
The names I like to drop are the ones who appeared unexpectedly in my unplanned perambulations.

I was 4 years undergraduate in West Middlesex and met no one of significance, unless you count Peter West at the Richmond RUFC bar after our game against London Scottish. And then out of the blue, one Sunday evening , a herald entered the common room and announced that a well-known pioneer of historic significance , who was visiting London, was due to pass by on the A4 from Heathrow.

We rallied on the intersection and waited for the motorcade to pass by with the world famous passenger. When it hove into view, we began to sing the standard student welcome – “Why was he born so beautiful etc”

Sensing a populist gathering, our visitor turned to us just as we blasted out the line “he’s no bloody good to anyone. He's no bloody good at all”.
He waved and smiled at our welcome. It’s not every day that you get the chance to greet the 1st man in space – a sort of latterday equivalent of Columbus.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

Some nice memories there lads. I too have lots of memories where "name dropping" could be justified. I remember when I answered my phone at work in Wellington,NZ,one morning and the voice at the other end asked "is that you Bill? Norman Kirk here" etc etc. He was the country's Prime Minister yet he made the time to ring me to ask me a question about some shirts he had bought from me the night before. Yes he called me Bill but I never presumed to call him Norman. He was always Mr Kirk to me. At the time though I wondered, how many places in the world would that happen and for it to happen to this lad from Cross Roads was amazing.

I think the funniest incident was when I was returning to Wellington from Auckland one day in the 80s and as I collected my case from the carousel a big bloke alongside me reached over and grabbed his. We made suitable comments and chatted as we walked out to the public area where he was greeted by a bloke known to me. He greeted us both and introduced us saying something like "I see that you have already met." We chatted together as we walked out to the car park and said goodbye etc. The funny part came later that day watching the 6pm news on TV when my new acquaintance from the airport appeared on interview.Both my then teenagers were excited to see this chap and when I mentioned that I had met him that day they were horrified that I hadn't recognised him or got his autograph for them. It was only Lou Ferigno, better know as the Incredible Hulk, and was very popular at the time. I guess I might have recognised him if he had his make up on! Lots more but too many to write about. Cheers.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1947-51

Current location (optional) Orewa, New Zealand

Re: Name Dropping

Who's in a hurry, Bill?

Let 'em go in dribs and drabs when you're ready.

I've got three primeministers but I remember first 2 characters from 60's TV who turned up at our Rag Week, circa 1962.

Hattie Jacques and Benny Lee of Bedtime with Braden. both very approachable, and willing to chat.

Benny Lee mocked my Yorkshire accent and when asked, he confessed to coming from Leeds. I insensitively "dismissed" him as a "Leeds Loiner from the Holy City" and it was only then I recognised his ethnic characteristics.

He laughed. Proper Yorkshire

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

One shouldn't be a "name-dropper". The Queen told me that!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 55-60

Current location (optional) Harrogate

Re: Name Dropping

On a trip to St. Petersburg a couple of years ago we were booked to go on a tour of The Hermitage. Got to the bus and found that we had been beaten to it by just one person, sat down next to her and started chatting.
Discovered later that she was called Valerie Leon. Now the name will probably mean nothing to the great majority of us but she was, in the 1970, the girl in the Hai Karate commercial (to be found on Youtube I'm told) and appeared in one of the Pink Panther films and some Carry Ons too.
Looked pretty good in the 1970s but that's a long time ago now (mind you she looked pretty good in the 1970s too).

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Name Dropping

When I floated the idea for this posting, I had expected there would be many entries from Old Boys’ memories. I was wrong.

After all, when I came to count the names ( in the list I had made) of casual encounters, I had accumulated a collection over 30.

Now I’m not a sycophant, nor am I a celeb fanatic. After all, these people, well-known for being well-known, do have private lives and should be visible in the more routine activities of life that we all share. It’s just that we don’t often see them at it.

When I saw notable personalities from the collection below, I eventually started a list which I will share with you.

Let me start with politicians ( including PMs)

Sir Alec Douglas Hume turning up for an election meet in a York street 1966;

Her Thatcherness scurrying for cover as she turned up to meet Lincoln councillors in the Guild Hall

Robin Cooke, crossing the road, near Westminster Bridge, I recognised him and looked in the direction of his companion. Being suited and booted, following an unsuccessful interview at the Home Office, I must have rung a bell with Tony Blair who looked at me and greeted me with “Hi”.

Denis Healey leaving No11

IDS (when party leader) with Kate Adie at the Imperial War Museum 2002

David Blunkett with dog at Kings X concourse

Kenneth Clarke waiting for someone at Nottingham Stn. He saw that I had recognised him and looked quite nervous, time of the troubles in Ulster.

I can hear the yawns from here.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

Robin Cooke lived not far from me in Edinburgh and he was often to be seen walking his two scottie dogs. What is it they say about dogs resembling owners? Well they did. One time I was flying home from London and for some reason the airline had put a Jumbo jet on the service, presumably because they needed to deliver it to Edinburgh for a long haul flight to somewhere exotic. Robin Cooke, at the time, had recently lost his position as the MP for Edinburgh Central. He boarded the plane with his assistant and they spent some time selecting a seat from the many available. Somebody at the back of the plane shouted: "Looking for a safe seat, Robin"???

Re: Name Dropping

I remember watching George Brown attempting to climb the steps of his (and Johhny Binns') platform in Town Hall Square in 1964.

'P****d as a newt' (to coin a phrase), but an interesting husting.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 59 - 66

Current location (optional) Shoreham-by-Sea

Re: Name Dropping

Airports are obviously a good place to meet people and on a business trip to Auckland one day in the 80s, we lived in Wellington in those days, I went into the gents and stood up at the urinal and someone else stepped up alongside me. As our glances met he smiled and said loudly "Ow you doing sah?" I recognised him right away and replied " welcome to New Zealand Mr King. I hope that you have enjoyed your visit" Still smiling he came back with something like "I sure have sah, it is a lovely place". We both turned away with a smile, washed our hands and he promptly held his hand out to shake mine. A nice moment. It was of course BB King at the end of a concert tour of NZ.
There was also Rolf Harris who I met before he was famous. He came to the department store I worked in in those far off days in the 50s when I was still fairly new down under. He did his painting tricks and flipped the canvas over etc. We shared a table for morning tea with him several times that week and of course we followed his career with great interest. What a great pity he stuffed it up.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1947-51

Current location (optional) Orewa, New Zealand.

Re: Name Dropping

I remember the day when, as a skinny, six foot one, 13 stone, fresh faced lad who packed down in the second row for the Keighlians played in a game where one of the wingers on the opposing side was the one and only Billy Boston. We'd drawn against The Royal Signals at Catterick in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup. We didn't make it any further! The Signals 'dumped' us good and proper and Billy Boston, soon to become a legendary player for Wigan Rugby League and Great Britain played no small part in the proceedings. Those were the days when most lads spent two years serving Queen and country doing National Service and of course Billy was doing his.
I often smile when I think of that day. Not because the defeat was a pleasant experience - it wasn't, but because of an incident that happened when the team stopped off on the way home at a pub in Ripon for a drink. The pub had a dance hall where we congregated in our green blazers to impress the local lasses! One of our team came up to me and asked if I would go outside with him - I'd be on a good thing! He had told a girl that he had a bottle of gin asked her to go outside with him for a drink. She agreed but asked if she could bring a friend. The terms were readily agreed and off she went to find her friend whilst we waited outside. She came back with her friend - and introduced a big lad called Fred who held his glass out for a slug of gin. 'B****r Fred', said my mate and back we went inside!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk.

Re: Name Dropping

On my windowsill, resplendent in a lovely silver (looking) frame, is a photograph of my wife and I taken in London on the occasion of our visit to the Queen's Garden Party some twenty five years ago. My wife wears a wide brimmed straw hat and a lovely diaphanous yellow dress, looking gorgeous as she always did. I am clad, for the first and last time in my life, in a top hat and tails. The backdrop to the photograph is Buckingham Palace. I cannot with all honesty say that on that particular day, did I 'brush' with Royalty. But I came close. I ate some little sandwiches, I nibbled on first class cakes and mixed with the great and the good, but the closest I managed to get to the Queen was when she passed slowly between two ranks of her subjects lined six deep, pausing to exchange a few words with selected individuals. I was not selected! Nevertheless, it was a memorable day and one which we talked about often.

No, my first real encounter with Royalty came a few years later here in Wisbech. For a couple of years, I had been carrying out voluntary work at the McMillan Centre using my modest skills as a water colourist showing half a dozen patients who attended the day centre, how to produce a painting. The end results were always satisfactory and sometimes the pictures produced were sent to relations across the globe. Anyway, the centre had been enlarged and Prince Charles had accepted an invitation to perform the official opening and to look round. Knowing HRH's keen interest in watercolour painting, the powers that be asked me to run one of my sessions on the day of the opening. The idea was to have the patients working round a big table leaving one seat vacant where Prince Charles could sit and have a go himself if he so wished. The big day came. The patients were busily at work but there were two spare seats, not one. Sadly one of the regulars was too ill to attend that day. Not wishing to be anything other than fully subscribed, the matron drafted in another 'volunteer' who was given a paint brush, paints and a half finished painting and plonked in the vacant seat and told to pretend to be painting. Fine! All went well until Prince Charles arrived and what was the first thing he did? He sat down alongside the 'volunteer', looked at the half finished picture and asked her how long she had been painting, to which she replied, 'About five minutes'. Lots of laughter and the ice was broken. He overstayed his allotted time with us. He didn't paint but he spoke with everyone and he and I enjoyed a conversation about the work I was doing as an art therapist and art in general. He left us with smiles on our faces to visit patients in another room before performing his final task in Wisbech - to declare the extension officially open and be presented to hospital staff and local dignitaries. I was invited to join the group too. Why? Because as a reminder of his visit to Wisbech, he was presented with one of my watercolours. My chest expanded by a full two inches!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk

Re: Name Dropping

My attempts to get an anecdotal posting going based on “them what I have seen” came to nothing.
So that you may appreciate why I tried to get this going, I am listing below, slightly classified but without anecdotal context, “them what I have seen”........... by chance not appointment:

Broadcasters/ entertainers:
Jonathan Miller; Terry Scott; Frank Bough; Liz Dawn; Frank Carson; Tubby Hayes; Benny Lee; Hatti Jacques; Geoffrey Hughes (Onslow/Twiggy); Lesley Joseph, Linda Robson (Birds of a feather); Humph Lyttelton; Lisa Goddard; Alvin Stardust; Kate Adey.

Sportsmen:
Frank Bruno; David Bairstow; Jack Charlton; Matt Dawson; Billy Boston; Frank McClintock.

Public Figures:
Terry Waite; Fred Jarvis; Doug McEvoy; Richard Branson.

Plus the others earlier mentioned.
Context and circumstance makes the encounters more amusing. I don’t go looking for them – like a locospotter – it is just the happenstance that I find intriguing.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

Your posting has just reminded me, Terry.
I encountered David Bairstow at a Summer Fair in a village in North Yorkshire many years ago. You could pay to bowl three balls at him and, if you got him out, you collected a prize. Quite a few little kids seemed to be getting him out so I thought I wouldn't embarrass him by having a go(?). Just commented that these kids seemed to bode well for the future of Yorkshire cricket, and he agreed.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Name Dropping

In an attempt to ensure that your labours don't come to nothing, Terry, I'll add another one.
Dave Baldwin's recollections of George Brown at the meeting in Keighley mirror mine.
Then, in 1968, I was en route overland to Turkey with a few friends and we stopped for a few days at Biograd-nu-Moru on the Yugoslav (now Croatian) coast. We were walking on the beach one day around dusk. All the holidaymakers (mostly Yugoslav's from the cities) had left and the beach was virtually deserted with the exception of three middle-aged men walking slowly towards us. My friend Dick, in his lovely Hampshire accent, piped up 'ere that old Yugo looks just loik George Brown. When they got up close the "old Yugo" said good evening and we exchanged a few sentences - it was indeed George Brown. Up close he was the very antithesis of the loud, almost aggressive, character we used to see on TV. Seemed quite gentle and diffident.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Name Dropping

Cheers, Shaun.
There must be scores more - unless my expectations are totally wrong.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: Name Dropping

OK Terry. Here's another one for you.
Around 1970 I sat comfortably on a very thick chinese carpet having tea and biscuits with Baroness Edith Summerskill and her husband (I think he was Dr Jeffrey Samuel). I'd opted for the carpet because we were one chair short.
I was visiting a friend in London and, as we were on our way to meet other friends he asked if we could pop into a house to leave a note for a young Brazilian lady of his acquaintance. She rented a room in the house. Turned out to be a large house in north London and we arrived to find the owners in. They invited us in for tea and biscuits. We had a very pleasant chat for about half an hour or so. When we left my friend enlightened me as to their names. I remember the thickness of the carpet to this day.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Name Dropping

Just read that Graham Taylor has died. Sat at the next table to him in a quiet, out of the way, restaurant in Cyprus about 15 years ago. Just exchanged a smile and a nod of recognition (on my part). Hope he was grateful not to have been buttonholed about football for ages. Only 72!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: Name Dropping

It must be almost thirty years ago now when I was a delegate to a Housing Conference some place in London. I was introduced to a young man who was an elected member of Bradford City Council whose name was Eric Pickles. I was told that he came from Keighley.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk

Re: Name Dropping

Erics family lived on Malsis Rd at one time. He's a few years younger than me though (Born 1952, mother was a Smith) Failed his 11+ and went to Tech School, but later to Greenhead.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral