Tony May’s February Feed Back

I thought this month I would take a bit of time to bring you up to date with news regarding some of my most recent articles. I get quite a lot of feedback from the pieces I write here and I always think if a story is worth writing at all it is worth following up on… so, here goes! *************************************************** I have been in contact with Mike Wells – the maker of ‘Hastings – A Moving Image’. Mike telephoned me a few weeks after the article about my discovery of his film on video in Oxfam was published and we had a long, friendly chat. Mike was delighted with my article and has promised to frame a copy of the photograph of my Great Grandfather, Walter Hobbs that appears in the film! ‘Hastings – A Moving Image’ was Mike’s ‘first effort’ apparently and has now been transferred to DVD along with several other titles. Tony 5Mike has a huge collection of Hastings ephemera, memorabilia and vintage photos and he has agreed to show me some of it when we meet up. He sounds like a really nice guy down the phone and is a musician, like me, so we should get on like a house on fire! I’m not sure as yet exactly when Mike and I will get together but if we can manage to get away from the subject of music I should come away with plenty of things to write a few more articles about so watch this space! ***************************************************

I seem to have stirred up quite a Hornets nest with my article last month about ‘A Debenhams Christmas’. The subject really took hold on Facebook and I was inundated by comments from people who recalled visiting Father Christmas at Plummer Roddis/Debenhams as a child. Interestingly, a lot of people remembered something that I had completely forgotten about – a ‘magic carpet ride’ that took you from the store to Lapland and Santa’s Grotto. Yes folks! It really did! Well, it seemed like it did to a lot of people back then anyway.TOny4

Reading all of these reminiscences spurred me into action and so I made another visit to the Hastings store to see if any of the staff could shed any light on the subject? It turns out that the store did indeed have such a ride but it was not the type of ‘virtual reality with video’ kind of ride we see at fairgrounds today, of course. It was instead a real carpet with hydraulics underneath that moved as if it were flying. Debenhams hired it apparently but their own display team was responsible for the ‘winter wonderland’ and Santa’s Grotto each year. It was most likely a ride on this ‘magic carpet’ that I was thinking about in my dream when I remembered a ‘ghost train ride that took you back to your parents’ though I did find one other member of staff who seemed to recall something similar… Maybe both memories are correct? I must have seen Santa at Debenhams on more than one occasion after all.


Remember my pieces about local Author, Sally Patricia Gardner? Well, ‘A Hastings Town Success Story’ has now gone on to become a global phenomenon! Sally’s last full-length book, ‘Finding Cordelia’ reached the top ten best-sellers list on the Amazon download charts and she has just released a new collection of short-stories entitled, ‘The Pottery Tales’. Since I flagged up her debut novel ‘Lillian’s Story’, for you here in June 2012, Sally has struck a deal with and they now produce hard copies of her books for sale on their website themselves. Now, whenever you get a major retailer like Amazon calling YOU up you know you are going places!Tony3

Check out ‘The Pottery Tales’. Its every bit as good as ‘Lillian’s Story’ and being a collection of short stories it’s the ideal little collection when you need to escape but are pushed for time. Sally’s work is never dull as those who come to ‘Short Fuse 1066’ will testify.


Returning for a moment to my articles in last month’s magazine, I have to report that my research into the history of the U.K. Christmas hit single continues. Ironically, soon after publication I happened to be flicking through my book of ‘British Hit Singles’ and came across an entry of a Christmas hit I had missed. It was, of course, inevitable that I would miss one or two lesser-known Christmas hits but this one was rather an important omission.

‘White Christmas’ by Mantovani (and his Orchestra) – an instrumental version of the old Irving Berlin classic – reached No 6 in 1952 and as such pre-dates Pat Boone’s vocal version (No 29 in 1957), which I incorrectly stated before to be the first version of the song to make the U.K. charts. I’m sure over time a few other ‘gremlins’ will pop up to spoil my pride in my researching prowess! ***************************************************

Regarding my recent article about local hero, Keir Cracknell and his ‘Tiffintime Café’ at Silverhill…

Sadly, Keir has now sold the business and is no longer a part of daily life in Silverhill. In the end competition from the Asda supermarket nearby and the resulting change in local shopping habits proved too much of an obstacle for him to overcome. Keir is far from finished, however, and promises that we have not heard the last of the ‘Tiffintime Café’. After a well-earned break over the Christmas period, the plan is for Keir to look for a better location to re-launch himself into business. Keir is a fully qualified Chef and so a delicious selection of hot meals could be on the cards this time. TOny2As enjoyable as his ‘Tiffintime’ experience was not being able to produce freshly cooked hot meals on site was rather limiting for him. A new venture in the new year will be just what the doctor ordered for Keir and all of us here at ‘Hastings Town’ wish him the very best of luck.


Talking of endings, I attended a fabulous evening at ‘Meet Of The Tongue’ at The Ostrich Pub in Robertsbridge on Dec 6th where an old friend of ‘Hastings Town’, Ben Fairlight, performed a set of his unique songs to an enthusiastic audience for the last time…TONY1

Having co-founded the ‘Meet Of The Tongue’ Storytelling, poetry and music evenings with fellow Storyteller, Hilary Watkins three and a half years ago, Ben has decided it is time for him to move on.

On an emotional night, Ben took centre stage for the second half of the evening and put on a fine show that included some of his incredible story-songs, a funny short story and plenty of opportunity for audience participation. In spite of the sadness all –round that Ben was leaving (two poetic tributes to him and his MOTT contributions were read out) the evening ended in typical upbeat ‘MOTT’ fashion when, after handing out a variety of musical instruments from all cultures around the world, Ben orchestrated an hilarious mish-mash of a song with what sounded a bit like a cross between the tribal rhythms of Africa and the ‘Ski Sunday’ BBC theme tune!Tony

Ben is going to be a hard act to follow for sure but his legacy of inspiration, encouragement, fun and musical masterpieces will I’m sure inspire MOTT regulars to step up to the mantle and take these wonderfully social evenings in a new and exciting direction…

The next ‘Meet Of The Tongue’ takes place at The Ostrich Pub in Robertsbridge on Friday the 10th of January. Local recording artist, Ned Roberts, whose debut single, ‘Red Sun’ received plays on Radio 2, will be performing. With all of the usual spoken word stories, poems, anecdotes and songs it sounds sure to be an enticing and entertaining start to a new era so make sure you come along!


Well, that just about brings me to the end of this little news ‘round up’. I hope all of you have a great time on New Years Eve and I look forward to writing plenty more (hopefully!) interesting articles for you all in 2014.

Love Tony x

From the February 2014

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