What a funeral; I have never seen so many people but I’m not surprised, as he was a genuine “what you see is what you got” kind of man, I’ve known Dennis many years, as a cricketer for Lycett Youth but it was much later when he came to play for N&HCC and later as groundsman we became firm friends.

He was able to bring both the club and the ground to life, things became more friendly and had a more pleasant atmosphere even with him constantly shouting: “keep off the grass” or “watch that dog or it’s arse” or something like that.

Nora, his wife, supported by her children, was wonderful coping with all the friends who wanted to give their condolences.

After a couple of pints a visit or two at the refreshment table beautifully laid and prepared by Occasions; Stuart, his mate and number one mechanic who was giving me a lift home shouted “are you ready as I’ve got something I would like to do”.

As I climbed in his 4 x 4 Ranger he drove on the grass -and, to my shock he kept driving all the way around the ground; as we approached the Pavilion, the people who had all come outside, cheered and clapped shouting: “GET OFF THE GRASS!”.

Something even the priest mentioned at the funeral service, towards the end.

It was a wonderful thing to do, I thoroughly enjoyed sitting there with Stu, what a kind thought; his way of showing his appreciation to his mate.

Driving home I felt a little depressed until I seemed to hear Dennis say “You silly bugger,  get on with it” to Stu and to me: “Get a grip and pull your finger out Smithy!”

It seemed a load was taken of my chest and I hope that Nora and the family will have the same experience in the days to come. I  wish I knew how to put photos on this Blog of him perhaps Martyn or Arnie can help me?

(Thanks for that help, Tony.)











,The first time I met him was outside Havana Airport after a terrible few days and flight from Madrid [read my book about it ‘From Oatcakes to Caviar’,Walking out through the double doors I was hit first by heat and humidity then the shock of hundreds of cubans crying,shouting the noise was horrific and all of a sudden I saw a large man with a black beard wearing army camouflage denims and a black berry on his head,he was hugging all the wounded solders I had travelled with on the plane who had returned from Angola.As he hugged and kissed there was tears in his eyes he was crying,This was strange to me as I had believed him to be a monster,dictator,traitor and rebel how could this be I was used to these ceremonies by people with gloves on shaking hands.After a few minutes standing there in shock watching…

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What is Love?

What is Love?

This is from my book My Ordinary Heroes

Love is happiness; which when pursued, is sometimes just beyond your grasp.

Persevere, it may look upon you.

When it does, hold it, nurture it and treasure it like gold, for love is the greatest pleasure on earth; if there is anything greater then God has kept it to himself.

Looking at old photographs, I came across one of my late wife in her Scottish outfit from when she used to go dancing. She was very young and very beautiful. Listening to Roy Orbison sing: In Dreams I felt the tears begin to trickle down my face. I wanted to put pen to paper, as I thought there must be others that feel the same way as me when they hear certain music. So I wrote:

“I still dream of loving, talking and walking with you”.

I wish that I could turn the clock back; I would nurture all of her, not only her heart. I would start by trying to overcome my shyness, to say how much I loved her because sometimes I feel as though I let love slip away.

Granddad would say to grandma, “If you are too shy to say you love me, squeeze my hand. Not that hard!” he would add.

“Get away with yer, man.” Grandma would tell us. “Take no notice of your Granddad, he’s silly”

Most people have these feelings from time to time and simple lines of quotations spring to mind, capturing how you feel at the time. I have the same feelings reading just a line or a few sentences by my fellow writers, sometimes they bring tears to my eyes and then I take a moment to reflect, then realise that great thoughts come from the heart.

Two poems come to mind, this one is by Che Guevara, which I first heard from his wife in Cuba. It was in Spanish and she read to a meeting  in Spanish which the translator related to me in English for me.

The second is from the film: Carve her name with pride. I read the book later but no poem was printed, I don’t know why. This is my interpretation of the two:

Take this, it is only my heart

Hold it in your hand

Love is all I have to give you

For it all I own and now it is yours, all yours.

Your beautiful body will revive and nurture it

For I know that all that you are is honest and true.

When the dawn arrives,

Open your hand and let the sun warm it.

When we meet again

I hope that it is a beautiful place that we both will adore

It’s not as good as the originals I admit but I hope you get my drift. Any love or friendship you have can’t be forgotten without leaving some mark on you.

Just a glance and you have fallen in love, crazy but if the other person has the same feelings, love begins and that spark starts a fire.

The Twentieth Century

The Twentieth Century

The evil Century. The future historians will call this the evil century. I am 80 years old and have spent most of my life in it, therefore I am able to write about my experiences living and working in it. The first world war was a terrible slaughter, a stupid and cruel waste of human life.

Only the wealthy and powerful people can tell us why. And in my opinion they should have been charged with war-crimes.

I was born in 1935 so was not aware of the First world war but through films and documentaries and books I have read I feel quite knowledgeable about it.

The second world war I remember quite well as a child hearing the German bomber planes coming over us and dropping their bombs;my mother carrying me and my sister and brothers to the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden. My father was fighting in the terrible war where thousands of soldiers and many civilians were slaughtered,And I have only mentioned the first 45 years of the century; War after war, all my life! when will the wealthy,  powerful people realise the terrible crime or is it their way of keeping the population down?

MY belief is that is greed and they are never brought to account ,can I write down the list of wars we have that I can remember, well I’ll try:




East Africa




The Gulf States




Northern Ireland




Sierra Leone and


The 21st Century has only just started and is full of fighting already. From what I read and see on TV there is a lot more to come, As the song asks: “When will we ever learn?” The powerful say we must have a deterrent we always have had one but it makes no difference, we are peace-keepers they say proudly but if I remember correctly, when i did my national service the first thing they train you for is discipline and to do as we are told, they gave me a rifle taught me how to shoot and kill the enemy.The target was a cardboard full sized soldier. With bold eyes on it where the heart is. If you put a bullet in there that was a kill. Another face and head that also was called a kill One hit on the shoulder arm, body or legs that was called a wound. Others outside of the cardboard figure would be a miss And after the allotted time I you had not got a kill you would be posted as a driver clerk, medic or store-man.

We were not trained to keep the peace but isn’t it strange,this century must be the greatest advances in technology, knowledge and medicines of all other previous centuries.

Why was that one so warlike?

One reason may be that some countries have everything and some have nothing, we hear this said many times even in wealthy countries. with people crying out for equality, the haves and the have nots.

More News My Arse.

Why cannot our media show famous people who LIVE in our city,”because there is none,”they all make there money there,but as one famous football manager said”God Forbid I should live there! Not one live in the potteries and when one has the honour of reconition like an O.B.E.they always say they are very proud of being born in Stoke-on-Trent,but it sounds as though they would never live in such a poverty area.                                                                                                               1 comment                     Very True but got title wrong it shoud be                                                                         BORN &BRED&BUGGERD OFF.                                           2 comment                From weatherlawyer moderate the word arse,perhaps he has                                   not got one or it’s in the clouds.                                                  3comment                Location—-  Advertiser 5-3-15.

Sir Roger Bannister

I called you “Sir!” in 1957, before you were knighted. The dates, of course, will give away my story: Two years doing National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corp at the training headquarters of the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Crookham, Aldershot.

A person like you, famous for the “four minute mile”, doing National Service, was an inspiration to us lesser mortals –especially me, who had been very angry at our Class System.

Being on the “Drill Staff” we took great delight in marching you up and down that square, practically every day for a month, trying to exhaust you in your squad. Some found it murder but you never did, in fact, you broke me –which was rather embarrassing under the eyes of RSM Rowlands.

The reason we called you Sir was that you had graduated to being a Doctor (at around 27) and entitled to a commission, you entered the Army as a Lieutenant. Because of your qualifications and super-fitness, you soon earned promotion to Captain. I doubt whether you will remember me (I was the horrible Drill Sergeant) but I will always remember you. It was great to have known you, if only for a short while, Sir.

I would like to think that if you remember me it will be as that bastard: Sergeant Smith but knowing your gentlemanly qualities and mildness, you would do no such thing.

Oliver Reed and General Montgomery

National Service and Marriage

I was Twenty one, and getting married a week later to my childhood sweetheart, the reason being that my father would not sign for me to get married before. One of the jokes at my wedding said by my best man Graham was reading a letter from Her Majesty the Queen, inviting me to two years in the army, free of charge and to report to Aldershot in two weeks time. But it was no joke. One week on honeymoon and then Joyce saw me off to Aldershot from Stoke station. Arriving at Euston station I had to cross over to Waterloo to catch the Aldershot train. When I went down to the underground it was like another world, I didn’t have a clue what to do.

There were thousands, (to my thoughts) of people. Seeing a ticket man I asked him directions and he said to get a one shilling ticket and follow the yellow line, which I did, ending up on a platform with a sign saying Aldershot plus many other places. A train came in, the doors opened, I got in, and the doors closed, and off we went within seconds. Sitting there looking at the train map I counted five stations and then mine, but to my surprise it was another station. I panicked and asked the fellow next to me if he could help.
‘Oh you came to the wrong side of the platform’ he said, ‘you should be going the other way’
Bloody hell! What a to do, I thought.
‘Don’t worry, he said, ‘you can stay on here all day going round till you come to your station it just takes a bit longer this way’. Sure enough, after about twenty minutes the train


arrived at Waterloo. Going up a large moving staircase I arrived at the top to see a large number of entrances with their destinations above. At last I came to gate number eight which said Aldershot. Thank god, I thought, one and a half hours wait. Whilst waiting I noticed a lot of other lads about my age with their cases so I guessed we were all going to the same place i.e the ‘Army’.
I met up with a smart, straight backed fellow with a cockney accent.
‘Are you going for National Service?’ I said.
‘Yes, Queen Elizabeth Barracks’ he said, Royal Army Medical Corps, by the way, my name’s Ollie, Ollie Reed’, he said.
‘And mine is Roy’ I replied.
At Aldershot, we both got off, and a soldier was shouting,
‘Anyone for Queen Elizabeth, jump on this lorry’, which we did with a number of others. About 20 minutes later we arrived at the camp.
‘Get in line at that door, and enter when called by the sergeant who will take all your particulars’, another soldier bellowed at us.
Ollie was in front of me as we were going through, then he heard the sergeant keep saying ‘how do you spell this?’ Ollie turned to me and said:

‘They can’t bleedin’ spell, we’ll have some fun here. Ollie was next, the sergeant shouted, ‘Name?’ Ollie spelt it out for him. The sergeant looked up at him and if looks could kill, Ollie was a dead man.
‘Playboy,’ said Ollie,
‘Bloody play boy?’ What’s that?’
‘It’s a kind of actor Sarge’, said Ollie, laughing, but with no sound coming out of his mouth.
‘You’ll be a shitting actor by the time I’ve finished with you lad’ said the sergeant.
‘Next’, the Sergeant shouted.
‘The name’s Roy Smith …S.M.I.T.H’ I said,
‘You being bloody funny lad?’ The sergeant screamed
Oliie nearly fell over. I thought that if I stayed with this fellow I was going to get into trouble but when we got into the barracks room his bed was next to mine, oh dear I thought, that’s all I need. Looking back it was the most enjoyable two years of my life. Ollie became my best mate and I’d like to think I was his. Going through training and attending many courses like first aid and with Ollie I attended the intelligence course, why is beyond belief, but later it


became very useful to me. The two years soon went, getting into trouble getting out of trouble seem to come natural to Ollie. But a head ache to our commanding officer, Captain Roger Bannister,
‘It’s a good job you are a fast runner Smith’ he used to say.
Playing football for the regiment and being picked for the army side kept me very fit, although I never once beat the captain, nobody ever did, and I often came second winning many trophies for the regiment in cross country races.

After eight weeks of training we were given a thirty six hour pass. This enabled us to go out of the camp and to go anywhere as long as we were back by Monday morning at 6 am for parade. I told Ollie that this did not give me enough time to go home. He told me to come with him to London for a night as we could stay at the Salvation Army Hostel or Nuffield Centre, as there were plenty of places for servicemen.

Dave Alps, who bedded the other side of the billet asked if he could come with us, and before we had chance to arrange things there were five of us. Come Saturday morning we managed to get a lift in the camp lorry which dropped us off at Fleet railway station which was the nearest to us at around three miles away. The next station was Aldershot and Ollie said we’d be better off at Fleet because at Aldershot we would spend all our time saluting bloody officers. After ten minutes the train arrived and


there was a rush for a seat. We walked quickly along the corridors looking into every compartment until we came to two men who were looking into one of the compartments that contained only one man. We brushed them aside and rushed in.

‘Come in boys sit yourselves down I see you are in the medics’ said the little man sitting in the corner by the window.

I looked at this man, he was slim, with a very sharp featured face, long slim nose and ferret like eyes that were looking all over us.

‘How do you like the army?’ he said looking at me. I was getting worried, “I know this man so be careful what you say Roy” I thought.

‘Well, it gets you fit, I’ve never felt so healthy. This is our first pass and we are going to London for the night.’

The man then asked what I was before I went into the army. I told him I was a bricklayer and I had just served my apprenticeship and had only two weeks on full money.
He then asked me my name:
‘Smith, Roy Smith Sir’ I said.
‘Ah Woy, do you know where that name comes from Woy?’


Then it hit me straightaway. I knew this man, I had heard him talking many times on the radio and television, he had a problem pronouncing his R’s, it was Field Marshall Montgomery.

‘No Sir I don’t’ I said.

He told me that in the first world war a lot of American’s helped us, and some had the Christian name Roy, the most famous being Roy Rogers the cowboy, he told me that my father must have liked cowboy films, we all laughed.

He never stopped talking to us all the way to Waterloo. The lads could not understand me calling him Sir all the time. We walked along the platform at Waterloo. I told the lads who this man was as he now had two men with him one on each side of him. I told the lads it was Montgomery and we all came to attention as he passed us at he looked at us with a smile on his face.

He stopped in front of me and said ‘you are quite an alert fellow Woy, with good alertness and observation you will make a good soldier.’
I thanked him and he carried on along the platform to be met by two red capped Sergeants.

I saw him many times but never had the pleasure to speak to him again. He lived in the next village Fareham, and he would walk to do some shopping and visit the Post Office but there were always reporters and photographers following him, as were the two men who I had brushed aside in the


corridor on the train. As I have said, he was very talkative and was always asking questions. I have only wrote about those directed to me, which reminds me of my answer to him about being in the medics. My answer was that I was having a problem:

Being a bit macho, I thought being a nurse, running about the ward with a bed pan or on the battlefield carrying a stretcher was not me.
‘Well Woy, why did you join the medics?’ he asked.
I told him I was playing football at the time and was told by the club to volunteer for the medics, as they had an agreement with them saying that if I played for the army on Wednesdays I would get a weekend pass, enabling me to go home and play for the club.

‘Well, said Monty, you know it is very important being a medic, don’t feel out of the action because the first thing a soldier shouts when wounded is ‘medic’, and when bullets and bombs are going off all around it takes a lot of courage to go to him with only a first aid kit, there are more medals given to these soldiers although it is only a small regiment.’

I had never thought of it that way but I told him I thought I would still prefer a rifle to a first aid kit. He told me that I would have to volunteer to join another regiment. He also said he was a socialist and was delighted when they got elected to run the country. I did not pay much attention to this although I was a little surprised as I thought he would


have been a Conservative. It was later that I realised he, and many more in the army had voted against Churchill because he was Conservative and they all agreed with Monty to have a change and all voted Socialist.

After my two year service ended I moved back to Staffordshire, into a council flat and life returned to normal. Only talking on the phone to Ollie reminded me of the army. One of my duties was to supervise the sergeant’s mess. One day on the menu was brown stew and dumplings to me this was the Potteries “Lobby and Barmy Balls” and when asked by the RSM what was on the menu I loudly said the latter.

The RSM looked at me with a stern look until Sergeant Delucca explained about the Potteries food. He was a Potteries man from Hartshill. ‘For God’s sake Roy, don’t put spotted Dick on for dessert’ Delucca said, laughing.

Ollie, myself, and Mumford and a couple of the lads used to sneak to the local pub called the Windmill and have a couple of pints if I remember. Ollie didn’t drink, but came all the same, looking for girls. One night he did have a pint and the next morning on parade dropped one of his clangers. In the medics when you are given the order to number it was in fours. Ordinary regiments call their numbers one to how many there are in the line, for example there may be 40 in the line which meant the last man would shout 40. The


medics would shout in fours, 1234, 1234, 1234, 5634. Ollie was not paying attention as he was number one and I was number two, he shouted five I shouted six two, and of course the drill sergeant came looking at me thought it was me. So he put his nose on my nose with such a stern face I started to laugh, until the RSM came into view, he quickly gave the order to number off and he stayed with me to make sure that it went right this time.

[I have no idea what the last two paragraphs were about. I will have to ask Roy on Friday.]

I’ve already said that Ollie would join in any courses going. One day he came to me with forms to be an officer.
‘You must be joking, a commissioned officer?’ no way’ I said.
‘Will you help me to fill in this form he said?’
‘Yes I replied, and it was then that I realised, that Ollie had difficulty in reading and writing. We would now call it Dyslexia. Ollie was away about a couple of months and was back with three stripes.
‘Not good enough’ he said.
It was about this time we began to drift apart. I was into sport and Ollie was with his fellows who liked acting and was always putting on shows in the NAAFI. There was only one show I joined in and this was the Black and White Minstrel Show. I had done this at school and like an idiot had told Ollie


Ollie was brilliant, and a new friend named Berry was also very good. Another time the RSM called me to tell me about another RSM who would be staying at the Mess and everybody especially me must see that he gets looked after.
‘He’s here for about four to six weeks and he is boxing for the commonwealth’ said the RSM. His name was RSM Amin, a six foot African weighing about 26 stone. He was very pleasant, no problems at all, I found it difficult to have a conversation with him and I always asked him if he wanted to do this and that. I suppose years later, people had wished I had put a cyanide tablet in his morning coffee.

[Regimental Seargent Major Idi Amin one time president of Uganda.]

Around a couple of years later, Ollie rang me to say he was coming to the Potteries to look around. He wanted to see Burslem and the other towns, as he was reading Clayhanger, and he was hoping to get a part in it. He also wanted to visit Wedgwood and Doulton and to get a brown teapot for his Grandparents from a company called Sadlers. I told him I would pick him up at Stoke Station. He arrived on the Wednesday at 10.30 and after his usual greeting he told me he had not passed his driving test.

We went to Burslem, and he bought a figure from their shop in Nile Street and then we went over to Sadlers. I knew Peter Sadler, as I had done some building work there. Peter showed us around, showing us all the beautiful teapots, but Ollie said that his Gran wanted a brown one. These


happened to be the cheapest, but I don’t think this had anything to do with it, as it was what his Gran wanted.
I drove him to the Wedgwood shop, he bought a few items in blue and white china then I drove him through all the six towns, he said he had never seen anything like it, it was like
being in another world he said, and kept on about the toilets being outside. He said one thing that would get me the part would be talking like me, like a Quaker, with thee and thou and wut. We had a meal and a couple of pints in the North Stafford Hotel opposite the station then he caught the 6pm train and he made me promise to call on him in London at any time.

[Oliver Reed was quite a famous British actor back in his prime. Unfortunately there was little for him from Hollywood in those days and the British industry was as ever, very badly run.]

Do not get pigeonholed

We english love to pigeonhole especially by the elite its something to do with keeping the lower classes in there place.The elite have a curriculum vitae knowing the working classes do’nt understand what that means,but over the years have learnt it means C.V.for thenselves,they have many arrows for there bow the working class as one e.g painter bricklayer chef etc.and arec considerd fodder.But this pigeon would not be holed so this is my story or curriculum vitae,schooled in a state system being called factory fodder was my hole for 10yrs,untill started work as apprentice bricklayer and sure enough put me in another hole for 6yrs.When classed as a tradesman but no hole her majesty required me for natinal service [army] 2yrs what a bloody hole that was.Afterwards back in my bricklayers hole,flitting from one hole to another foreman/siteagent/manager/selfemployed builder the hole getting more luxurious,never the less the elite kept me holed as my C.V. was not of academic.So decided to go work overseas wonderfull no pigeon holes there freedom at last especailly places like Australia.Many years later joined technical vocational training teacher brillant returning to UKsetling in my yes you have it teachers pigeonhole. Reaching the age of 65yrs retired and put in the O.A.P.hole were started writing my memoirs after my forth book was moved to authers/writers hole this was a little difficult to get out as I was feeling my age what could I do now where could I fly now perhaps it is time to accept you’ve had your time mate,accept it untill a friend suggested to buy a computer and learn to opperate it and get on the internet what a challenge.So my conclusion is education is quicker and easier study be a professional get to be one of the elite although it may not be exciting you can always turn the telly on   Winston churchill was allways being pigeonholed same as me because he was a bricklayer.

Councillors & Politicians

‘You need a bleeding degree now to be a Councillor,and to be an M.P. in the Commons you need to be a millionaire with an honours degree. If you haven’t got a million already,with the expenses that members of parliment get you soon will be! said Jack who had been a councillor for 40years and not received a penny excepting some expenses for bus fares.   It didn’t matter what party you belong to common sense ruled the day not what letters you had behind you. Thats exactly where the letters should be interrupted Ike on there backside.  The young ones of today call them Old Farts but Jack,Ike,Sam,Alf, Elsie, Lilly and Hannah to name only a few worked hard to keep our Borough what it is today,I call them the Salt of the Earth.   There names tell you they are ordinary working people how can you expect them to vote for academic’s and the elite from out of the area [London] with names like Antony,Tristhan,mohamad,Julia,Helena,Seema and Garath                                           Yes I’ve had my arguments with them over the years but have always agreed to differ.Some people like Ike will never his views about refusing planning applications for 4bedroom houses because they are for conservative voters and accepting accepting applications for council or town houses because they vote labour. I’ve told him if Hitler became leader he’d still vote labour,but to be fair to him the conservatives would vote the same!It seems to be All for the party nowadays and not for the ordinary man in the street. Some people think more about animals and having a beautiful view than allowing a young couple there own house ,sometimes  its granted but it has to be in a kind of Grotto with no space  between one house and the next .My great grandfather built those type of houses two hundred years ago,THey called them terraced for the working classes or poor farmers cottages                                                                                                                               I went to Jacks funeral today 31/10/14 my birthday a sad and yet happy day,strange but true.Sitting in church remembering all the storys he used to tell me,people who glanced at me must of thought what a strange man I was with a smile on my face but I was reminiscencing the tale he told many times,but never dared write about but as they have both died so I do’nt care what the media cannot print I can.He used to say one of is opponents was a very attractive lady beautifully dressed and her make up was perfect,poshly spoken speaker but always came to meeting with no knickers on.How do you know that Jack I would ask laughing do’nt ask he always replied.    Miss you Jack.

Get your finger out.

Get your own newspaper you Newcastle black and Radio station instead of criticising ours.Our M.P.may look Tory but after just 3years is on the front bench yours after many years is still on the back bench just drawing his expences you and him should [tittle].Oh dear I thought the local media was for all north staffordshire,  never mind I’ve some good news I am on the O.A.P.line rate with B.T.saving me $15 per month,no more press1 press2 press3 exc.thank-goodness.Also to newcastle councill for helping me with my council tax. Not to happy with seven trent  Waterboard but at least they are talking to me,as they say jaw jaw better than war war.Perhaps I’ve upset them by telling them they can have gallons off my garden free,they told me a 78yr old to go to the Webb site and all my guestions would be answerd,but I cannot find it its not on my bus route a friend told me it was between Woore and Whitmore.Save on this and that all sending these leaflets  but the invoices still gets higher,I try to save myself by weeing behind my garden shed.using my neighbours outside tap to fill my kettle and on the other side there outside toilet,[its 90%true guess the other10% your self.Now for the big 2 Gas &Electric I’ve managed a little help ,pay by debit wear your overcoat or dressing gown [d’ont have one] I end up putting more on than off when I go to bed.Reduce the timer on my central heating boiler,well at least they are trying not to make me laugh.When I told my friend Mrs Brown the above and how I thought I had cracked these cartels she replied FRACKINGHELL!!!!!                                                                                  Please fellow bloggers whats so bad about the above why will they not print or announce it, one mailled you must moderate your bloggs I replied BOLLOCKS, now I d’ont mind him complainning now,but not the above.                                        It as taken me two weeks to write this blogg twelve months ago I started to pay attention to computers I wrote a letter to a newspaper and to my shame they printed it at the time it was very funny and I got many congratulations.                   Why did it take so long I here you say,well its all in my next blogg which I am calling Learning A New Language called INTERNET,it could have come under this title because I certianly had to get my finger out.