Digest -June 2021

Digest -June 2021


June 2021

No man is ever old enough to know better!

Your Medical Records

1st September   is the deadline date to allow you to opt out of your records going into the public domain.  Register your decision by signing and dating the attached generic letter and delivering it to your GP.

Bob Howes’ talk – His Life in Music

He considers he comes from artistic parents.  They were painters and drawers.  Father was a professional artist.  Scottish mother sang a lot.    What he doesn’t know is what songs but he thinks they reflected what Jimmy Shand came up with later.   As a boy tenor he sang in a church choir.  At junior school he was taught rhythm by playing percussion instruments such as the triangle and tambourine under the supervision of an ageless Mr Welch.  Also there he learned the recorder.  This obliged him to read music.  At age 10 his mother made him learn violin and clarinet.  Both were hard but he thought the piano is the hardest.  It involves co-ordination of both hands and both feet simultaneously and reading 2 lines of music.  Once in High School the music teacher, Mr Swainson set up an orchestra lead by Alan Girling and also playing violin.  Shortly he was made leader after Alan left to form his own orchestra.

A defining moment was when he was taken to Sadlers Wells for a performance of the opera Rigoletto by Verdi.  This decided that music was for him.  He philosophises that art education is a stimulus to the emotions.  Such that a great painting can reduce one to tears.  In his teens he was a keen cyclist going around youth hostels.  Watching ‘The Benny Goodman Story’ at an Elm Road cinema convinced him to give up the violin, sell the bike and buy a clarinet.  This he got at a shop in Soho.  Hence he was now into jazz.

When he was 17-18 David Woods came into his life when he was in a jazz band.  David had many talents.  He took A level physics ‘just for fun’ and composed much music.   He studied music at Cambridge University but jumped into anthropology before finishing the course.  Eventually he became an opera singer.

Bob was now a regular player in the Jazzmen Anonymous band playing in numerous venues and occasionally getting paid.  A memorable occasion was when David Woods  invited them to  Glyndebourne where he was singing to play at the end of season cabaret.  There they were sharing a cottage in Lewes with some Australian opera singers where they had to climb in thru a window. 

In 1971 he saw an advert by a man from Hull who sold Dr Scholl’s shoes from a local shop to form a band.  They became a six piece called the Georgia Jazz Band playing regularly at the Golden Goblet and the Red Lion in Rochford.  One time they were invited to play at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club.  There they rescued a serviceable piano from a lot lined up for a piano smashing competition. 

He got to know Cy Laurie who had a band in London but also played the Esplanade in Southend.  He has also known Digby Fairweather since he was 17.  Professionally Digby was a librarian but is much better known as a cornet player.   He is now almost a neighbour of Bob and Jean.

The Outlook

Now we are past the latest milestone of 17 May and life is almost back to normal but for having to wear a face covering in public places but you don’t need to bring a mug to Balmoral.

However, you will note that daily infections which were in the 2000’s have now gone over 3000 and hospital admissions are rising. So fingers crossed for full freedom post 21 June. A few days ago we learned that Manchester and Lancashire are new hot beds for infection. Thankfully they are not being clamped down but are going to follow the example of Bolton where positive action has proved successful.

For the gardeners- weeds

Weeds can be beautiful, of course, but this rarely matches the satisfaction in extirpating them from the soil. 

The charge sheet is a lengthy one. They grow fast and tall, depriving flowers in close proximity of life sustaining sunshine. They rob the soil of water and essential nutrients while at the same time inhibiting the rooting of cultivated plants. Their rapacity strangles the life out of cereal crops and renders arable land uncultivable. ‘They are so pestilential,’ noted the doyen of weed studies Sir Edward Salisbury, ‘it might be thought the less said about them the better’.

His lifelong, if contrarian, interest in their pestilential attributes was prompted initially by a survey of  “ The Flora of Bombed Areas” he conducted in 943 when director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew.

In 1941, when vast swathes of London had been flattened these ‘blackened , scars of war’ Sir Edward now found to be ‘clothed in a green bracken and purple buddleia carpeting the burnt-out nave of St James’s Church in Piccadilly; chrome-coloured Oxford ragwort infiltrating the rubble of London Wall;  violet, trumpet—shaped thorn apple penetrating the exposed cellars of Cheapside.

Everywhere there were creeping  buttercups, thistles, nettles and the tall purple spires of rosebay willowherb —- so   pervasive as to be christened  ‘bombweed’.  In total, he identified 126 different species of invasive interloper.

He found the colonisers to be prodigious seed—producers: the ubiquitous ‘bombweed’ generates an average of 80,000 from a single flower, though a much higher number is not exceptional.  Their parachute-type swaying gently in the breeze. of silken hairs slowed their descent (timed by his standing on a high ladder and letting them drop) before being caught by the wind and transported over long distances.

He demonstrated, too, the role of human agency, growing numerous weed species from muddy boots, the dust swept from church pews and even the debris from the turn-ups of his trousers — likening himself to a peripatetic censer,‘ walking about scattering seeds’.

It matters little where those seeds settle: there is no urban setting too derelict or impoverished for their rapid germination — just half an hour for tumbleweed, while the entire life cycle of the prolific groundsel is compressed into six short weeks.

 And if, for any reason, the circumstances for immediate germination are not propitious, seeds have the further remarkable property of dormancy.   Thirty years earlier, this phenomenon of their resting quiescent in their millions in the soil for years on end had been demonstrated famously on the battlefields of the Somme.

Returning in 1917, war artist Sir William Orpen recalled how six months earlier the terrain had been nothing but shell holes and mud — the most gloomy, dreary abomination the mind –   But the horrors of mechanised warfare, ‘bombturbation’,  had brought to the surface an abundance of dormant seeds and now ‘no words could express the beauty’ of the symphony of iridescent red poppies, white daisies and yellow charlock stretching s far as the eye could see, swaying in the breeze.

The most distinctive feature — the glory of weeds — is their tenacious ability of to spread themselves around, exemplified by the convolvulus, or bindweed, whose attractive pink and white bell flowers belies its ‘evil reputation’.  Its roots penetrate 15 feet deep into the soil. Meanwhile its stems also extend horizontally below the surface, sending up new shoots covering as much as 30 square yards in a single season. Cut them with hoe or plough and, within days they sprout new roots and shoots.

Wondrous weeds indeed.

Dates for Your Diary

21 June:  Vulcan open day

28 June:  Coffee with a Cop at Belfairs Woodland Centre.

30 June: Fund Raising  Lunch. Brewers Fayre, Eastern Esplanade, Southend at noon.   £15 for 2 courses.   Call David  01702  472670  to book your place.

Ongoing:  Concerts at the Plaza Centre.  Fridays at 8pm.  Info:  orlo.uk/TBJdA

Ongoing:  Southend new website.  www.visitsouthend.co.uk

21 July:  Next meeting.  Balmoral Centre 2pm. Laura Mansell Essex Fire and Rescue “Fire Safety”

© JDS/ June 2021