Christmas season starts with a bang

The three munitions workers.
The three munitions workers.
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One Christmas event started the season off with a bang, or rather, the familiar chilling wail of an air-raid siren.

Richard Newman took the sell-out audience at St Peter’s church in Walton back to World War Two and then brought them forward, jogging memories on the way with sketches and music. Sir Winston Churchill (Angus Shaw) made a speech; Ron and Eth (Val and Ken Wilby) sketched out The Glums from Take it from here and Mrs Dale (Freda Taylor) was worried about Jim as she recounted a week’s diary of troubles. Richard wrote four new Christmas stories for the night and also wrote the scripts for the radio programmes. Julia Newman, Doreen Lister and Anne Kilby were three munitions workers who also did all of the work and prepared all the home-made food and mulled wine. Bill Kilby starred in three roles: first as an ARP warden telling everyone to put their lights off, then as a ‘mirror’ in the Glum’s sketch and finally dressed as a schoolboy (Young Fred) he recited a Yorkshire Christmas ditty, which he wrote himself, accompanied with his catapult and dirty knees.

Candlelight, the smell of warmed burgundy, music through the last seventy years played superbly by John Townend on the organ caused not just one tear to be released as a certain memory came back perhaps for the first time in a very long while.

Members of the Old Men’s Parliament enjoyed their traditional Christmas lunch at Sant Angelo’s and had a surprise visit from Father Christmas. Whilst he was giving out presents to members and wives, I overheard one jealous lady at a neighbouring table say “Why didn’t he visit us?” But by that time Father Christmas (alias club member John Trower) was posing for a photograph with another young lady.

Vandals risked life and limb to balance on the bridge parapet to remove 60 bulbs from the lights. It was probably Christmas spirits of the wrong sort which motivated them. “It’s a pity they didn’t fall in” said one uncharitable soul who had heard about it.

Susie Whippet came to Wetherby in December 2011 and has now lived here for a full year. She has enriched my life and and been my constant companion. She’s inquisitive and friendly and always has time to stop and greet people or other dogs. Through her I’ve made many new friends and acquaintances who are always willing to stop and talk to the little black-eyed Susie wearing he bright red coat. Probably without realising it she has become an accomplished newshound and is constantly introducing me to people who have a story to tell. Life is never boring with her around.
Recurring back troubles make it difficult for me to sit around very much and I’ve been advised to do plenty of walking as the best type of exercise. Susie encourages this. Without her companionship, I’d probably have been content to live a much more sedentary life and not get out and about meeting people.

Of course there are times and places when I can’t be accompanied by a dog and we both accept this. I can’t take her in a supermarket but I know that when I get home she will be waiting for me and eager to see whether any special treats are contained in the shopping bags. I can’t go on exotic holidays abroad without leaving her behind. There are friends who would fight to look after her, but in all honesty the back problems would make any long-haul flights so uncomfortable that they are best not undertaken. It’s much better enjoying life locally in and around Wetherby. We couldn’t live in a better town.

There are times when we can learn from our canine friends. Susie Whippet is two years old and it is said that each year of a dog’s life equates to seven years of human life. If she were human, she’d be a teenager - and we all know what teenage girls are like! She can be contrary and difficult to get up in the morning - particularly if it is raining and she may get her hair wet.
But I’ve noticed that even as I’m dragging her out of bed, she has to delay the moment of coming fully awake by performing her exercise routine of several deep stretches. This reminded me that both a podiatrist and an osteopath had recommended brief exercise routines for me. They only took a couple of minutes but I’d either forget to do them or postpone them until I had a spare couple of minutes which never came. Could I do them whilst Susie was performing her own wake-up routine?

I tried and must admit that when I’ve actually managed to do the exercises, it has put an extra and much-needed spring in my step. It doesn’t work in quite the way I envisaged. When I first started doing them, Susie looked on in amazement - and promptly went back to bed. Somehow we couldn’t get our act in order and both do our exercises at the same time. We’ll persevere and maybe this can be our New Year resolution?