Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Young Archers Evacuate Themselves

The sight of the Archerettes in their brown raincoats being evacuated to the North East last week, name tags and gas masks tied round their necks, has evoked many memories and emotions in Ambridge.

The Bar chat in Jaxx has been full of it. Kenton recalls the stories about his old friend Nelson Gabriel. Nelson was a very private man. Rumours abounded that during his time in National Service he had been a Rear Gunner of some repute, rumours that Nelson never confirmed or denied.

Kenton himself has many stories to recount from his days on the high seas. He has the air of a disenchanted discharged seaman, forever unfulfilled.

Jamie envies Daniel's involvement in the School Cadet Force. For Daniel this represents an opportunity for esprit de corps and the joys of the great outdoors. He always has a spring in his step and a glint in his eye when he comes home from camping. Jamie feels denied the opportunity to wield his chainsaw and set fire to things.

Elizabeth has had to put her foot down and thwart Freddie's ambitions. As a precursor to a military career he has proposed a sponsored parachute jump in the grounds of Lower Loxley, which would be a little too close to home for Lizzie, in more ways than one. The jury is still out on Lily's chosen career of thatcher.

Ironically it is Lynda who has the greatest military air of everyone in Ambridge. The planning she brings to all her activities - from pantomime to bush trimming, fete planning to llama rearing - is reminiscent of the greatest military campaigns. For older residents she has an air of Ralph Reader about her. Robert just sees Sybil Fawlty.

The Village Hall, of course, played host to Ambridge Home Guard during the war. Rendered unfit for service by his farmer's lung, Joe Grundy was very much the Fraser of the platoon, although his black market activities (so generously passed on to his son) were reminiscent of Walker. A young Graham Rider bore more than a passing resemblance to Pike. Being continually told to be quiet by his seniors has had an effect well into later life. Walter Gabriel, first-aid kit in hand, reminded people of Godfrey. And the platoon was of course commanded by the great Jack Wooley, to whom Arthur Lowe paid tribute for the inspiration for his characterisation of Mainwaring.

We will wait to hear news of the evacuees but if you hear other military or wartime memories, do post them below or relay them by morse, semaphore or twitter to @TonysConsultant.

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