The American Bomber Crash Mystery

I was told this story by my Mum around the mid-80s. She was in her fifties at the time. She’d been shopping in Guildford and  was waiting for a bus back to Shalford, from opposite the ‘Yvonne Arnaud’ theatre. When she got on the bus she struck up a conversation with an elderly man towards the rear of the bus. The old chap apparently asked her a few questions. ‘Was she married?’ ‘Did she have any kids?’ That sort of  thing. Mum had never met this man before, but she instinctively knew he was ‘alright’, just a harmless old chap who enjoyed chatting with anybody, and everybody! He asked her where she lived and she replied “Shalford”. He told her that he had known Shalford quite well many years earlier. He went on to ask her where in Shalford she lived. Mum said “Tillingbourne road”. He asked her if she lived in the oldest part of the road or the ‘newer bit’. She replied “The newer bit”.  (This was the council owned far end of the road built in the fifties). “Oh” he replied. “I knew that when it was all just fields!”

He then asked her if she had heard about the American wartime bomber that had crashed in those fields during the Second World War.  She hadn’t. (No one we knew had ever mentioned this). Now, bear in mind that this conversation was happening on a bus trip from Guildford to Shalford, a trip that would only take ten minutes at the most, and my Mum was already almost at her destination. Mum was fascinated by his story and decided to stay on the bus for one stop more, just so that she could hear more about the bomber crash. The bus would also stop further along in the village, so it was ‘O.K’., she would just have a slightly longer walk home, but it gave her the time to hear a little bit more information. Sadly, the only other information that she was able to get from the old chap, before she had to get off the bus, was that it had been on a training flight heading for Canada. He said that all of the crew onboard, at least six young men,  were killed on impact. My Mum said that the impact site he described to her, sounded very much like the field directly behind the Tillingbourne river, which was directly behind our home.

Mum never did meet that old chap again. It was a few days after her brief unexpected meeting with him, that she told me the story, but, as far as I know, she never told my brother or sisters.  A few years ago a book was published called ‘Wartime Guildford, 39 to 45’,  (By David Rose and Graham Collyer, it is a book I highly recommend to anybody interested in Guildford or the war years). I was confident there would be a mention of the American bomber and its crash site in there. But no, there was nothing. The problem we have now is that anybody old enough to remember it, if it actually happened, has either died or their memories are fast fading.  It would be nice to get to the truth of this mystery, not just for me, but more importantly, for all those who (possibly) died there, and their surviving family members and descendants.

Watch this space. I’m working on it!

UPDATED FEBRUARY 22ND, 2016…….

I did lots of  research on this (alleged) American W.W.2 bomber crash site near my childhood home. After looking at every possible lead on the internet, I  still could not come up with any verification that a crash had actually occurred there. But, with the help of the ‘Surrey History Centre’, I obtained a map of all plane crashes around the Guildford area during the period of 1939 to 1945. It was very small and hard to see in any detail, (as it was covered in heavy marker pen), but it did show various crash sites within a few square miles of our home in Tillingbourne road, Shalford. I found amongst U.S.A.A.F. wartime British crash site records, an entry for an American ‘B24’ Liberator bomber, which had crashed on July 3rd, in 1944. The crew had abandoned their damaged plane over Chichester, and it had flown on crewless for about 35 miles, before finally crashing at Trunley Heath, near Shalford, (about a mile south of our home). I also tracked down an American ‘C-47’, the ‘Lilly Bell 11’, which had crashed into a field at ‘Hurst Farm’, Jacobs Well, Guildford, (four miles to our north), on October 25, 1944, killing all of its four-man crew. 

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The C-47 that crashed at Jacobs Well, near Guildford, killing all 4 crewmen.
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The map showing plane crashes around the Guildford area (39/45)

There were records of two German ‘V1’s (‘Doodlebugs’),  crashing in the Chantries. One on July the 26th, 1944, on the other (Guildford) side of the Chantries, near South Warren Farm,  and the other one crashed off East Shalford Lane, on Manor Farm’s land, (on July 7th, 1944), which is on our side of the Chantries woodlands. Neither of them crashed behind our house.   I contacted the local Guildford historian David Rose and he very kindly did some research. Mr Rose’s e-mail response with his final findings is shown below….

“There was a ‘V1’ (rocket) that landed just to the north of East Shalford Lane, on 11th July 1944, (to the NE of 83 Tillingbourne Rd.,) that fits the bill. I think that the aircraft crash and 6 airmen being killed was a wartime rumour. The closest aircraft crash to ‘No.83,’ (our home in Tillingbourne Road at that time), was the U.S.A.A.F. ‘B24’ Liberator that was abandoned by it’s crew over Chichester, but flew on to crash to the west of Trunley Heath Road, north of Tilthams Corner Road and south of Unstead Lock on July 3, 1944″. (David Rose, Guildford Historian.)

So, to sum it all up, it seems as if the old chap that my Mum met on the bus back in the 1980s,  got his facts, and his local geographical knowledge, a little bit mixed up! I have highlighted, (above), David Rose’s comment that he thought it was a ‘wartime rumour’, it would appear that the old chap was, (perhaps unknowingly), still spreading that rumour in the 1980s! But never mind, we have hopefully laid the rumour to rest now, and regardless, I have enjoyed researching these incidents, and I have learnt a great deal. I think that it is now case closed!

A big ‘thank you’ to David Rose and the ‘Surrey History Centre’ for all your help and expertise in solving this wartime riddle.  In Honour of the following brave young men, who lost their lives near Guildford in 1944, fighting fascism.  R.I.P…..    1st Lieutenant Mercer Wilson Avent;  Flight Officer John Edmund Wright;  Technical Sergeant John R. Hillmer; and… Staff Sergeant Dale E. Dellinger.

 

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A German ‘V1’ Flying Rocket Bomb  (known as ‘Doodlebugs’!) Two of these crashed in the Chantries area of Guildford, one to the north, and one to the south.
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An American ‘B24’ Liberator, similar to the plane the crew abandoned over Chichester, which flew on and crashed at Trunley Heath, Surrey, in 1944.

Mark Anthony Wyatt, Bude,   February, 2016.

Note; Any written work, music, images or videos that Mark Anthony Wyatt has created, remains his personal intellectual property! But any other images, videos, quotes etc., that were NOT created by me remain the intellectual property of those who created them. 

 

You can also find me on ‘Facebook’..@ ‘It’s a Dark, Dark Night’ or ‘Mark Anthony Wyatt’.

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‘The Old Rectory’ (Mark Anthony Wyatt)

 

Note; In the following story, the names and relationships have been changed to protect people’s privacy. However, the place names, and all of the events are totally genuine………

A lovely young lady that I know well,  Rosie, and her boyfriend Jim,  had moved back west to the country, from which they had both originally come,  to try to  escape their  partying, city lifestyle, and the endless, awful, damp, structurally dangerous flats that they had been forced to rent in downtown Bristol.  They had loved Bristol,   but they knew that the hectic social life that they led amongst other young, energetic,  sociable people had to slow down sometime. They were fast approaching  their mid- twenties but still partying hard like they were first year uni students. It came with a price all that raving. Their limited funds just couldn’t keep up with the demands put on them.

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Bristol Clubbing

Rosie and Jim, like so many other young people in Cameron’s Britain, were struggling to make ends meet. There were so few jobs available, and the jobs that they were able to get never paid well, plus it didn’t help that they were regularly taken advantage of by unscrupulous, selfish employers. So they had headed west, into the sunset, to seek a quieter, healthier, cheaper lifestyle, and hopefully get a couple of good jobs too!  It wasn’t too much to ask for was it? Did they get it? Well eventually, thankfully, yes they did. But they were to have one more big hurdle to leap over first, and that hurdle was called Bideford Rectory!

Bideford is in Devon, and it’s about three hours west of Bristol. It’s Jim’s home turf, he’s a Devon boy through and through. It is a quiet, pretty estuary town on the Torridge river, on the north coast. They thought it would be a good place to withdraw from city life and start a better,  more wholesome, more tranquil life. They didn’t want to lose their Bristol based friends, as they were all lovely people, (I know, because I met a fair few of them), but they wanted to put some miles between them, so that they would only see them when it suited their new life’s purpose and direction. They desperately wanted to get decent jobs, save some money, and build a new, improved life for themselves.

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Bideford….not as quaint as you might think it is!

After looking at the usual delapidated rental stock, of dire, damp, cramped apartments with crumbling walls, (it was just the same in Bideford as it had been in Bristol), they had eventually found a half-decent place that they thought  would make them a reasonable home.

The first floor rectory flat (apartment) had seemed like a decent enough place to live. It was in a nice residential area not that far from the Torridge river bank, on the edge of the little town. It was a part of a large Victorian house, tucked away and very private, down a long meandering, mature wooded drive. I’m sure that in its day, when the rector lived there, it had been a high class property. Their part of this big, sprawling red-brick bit of old England was actually a more recent ugly extension. It was a modern, (possibly 60s), rectangular wing abruptly stuck on to the once lovely, but now decrepit, old building.

All around the building were scruffy, tired old caravans,  and old buses and vans. They appeared to be lived in by people down on their luck who had also once seen better days. There were little bits of everyday rubbish just strewn about  here and there, spent beer cans, old pizza boxes, and discarded, water-logged, ripped furniture, that sort of thing. Never a good sign. But on the plus side, their flat was HUGE and it had plenty of light. It had once been used as a classroom by the local council, it was where, in the 80s, they had taught young adults with learning difficulties. It had a long line of big windows all down one side, and also down at the far end. It had very high ceilings and there were various sheets, blankets and old curtains hanging from the curtain rails, acting as make-shift curtains, (not that they were over-looked by anything except a few old oaks).

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One of the many delapidated old caravans in the Rectory gardens

The kitchen, such as it was, was totally dwarfed within this much larger room, and their king-sized bed was situated right up at the far end, where the shorter line of windows were, on top of a three feet high stage platform. To get to the showers, which they had to share with several other tenants,  (some cleaner and tidier than others), they had to leave this big room and go through a pair of double doors to a dark and dingy connecting corridor, to the older, original part of the building. I visited them a few times and I never felt very comfortable at the old rectory, especially the bit through the swing doors towards the shower block. It had a very unsettling energy that would make me feel giddy and breathless.

When Rosie and Jim first moved into the old rectory everything seemed to be just fine, they had lived in more than a few rough places before, and with Rosie’s undoubted artistic flair, and Jim’s muscle, they knew that they could make it their own ‘home’, well, at least until something better came along anyway.

All was going fairly well, but slowly their disillusionment began to set in as little things began to go wrong, one way and another. They couldn’t get decent jobs in Bideford, and money, despite spending much of their time not going out socialising, was tighter than ever. Jim was frustrated and depressed, and because Jim was down, Rosie was a little bit down too.  When I visited the old rectory it always depressed me, I wanted better for them. They both deserved better. I thought back to myself at their age and how easy it had been for me and my generation. We were able to walk out of one well paid job and straight into another, and we still had some basic employment protection and rights back then too. I was angry at the successive governments, all responsible for running, (and frankly ruining), our country, and, in so doing, dealing so many youngsters like this such a crap hand in life.

I had a worrying drive one wet winter’s evening, from Bude up to Bideford, along the awful, winding A39, having  received a tearful call from Rosie on the telephone.  (They were both estranged from their parents, and had looked upon me as a sort of ‘unofficial’ Dad for a few years by that time.)   I turned off the main road to Barnstaple and headed over towards the old rectory.

I drove up the long, meandering, wooded drive. There was a nasty, tough looking bloke, with very little hair, fiddling with an old motor.  He was in his early thirties I would guess, and his cold, steely blue eyes were watching my arrival. He was giving me one of those hard ‘stare back at me if you dare’ looks. So I stared right back. Two can play at that game. He didn’t nod, he didn’t smile, he didn’t wave, and I knew immediately, right there and then, with my expert in-built, arsehole spotting antenna,  that he was, well….. how can I put this? Well, that he was an arsehole. I was right of course, it rarely fails. I pulled up, locked my car doors, and walked up towards their flat. I could feel Mr Personality’s eyes  drilling into the back of my head.

As soon as they opened their door to me, I could tell straightaway that they were having an awful time, and were at their ‘wits end’. Jim was at the end of his tether, and Rosie was doing her best to keep him calm. He was pacing the room and very argumentative, not at all like his usual self. Tensions were high. Rosie explained that they wanted to be out of the flat as soon as possible as they were in some trouble. “What trouble?” I asked. She then told me what had been going on for the last few days. The landlady,  (who was about as dodgy as a six pound note),   had asked them to leave. She had claimed that they were behind with their rent.  It turned out that they weren’t,  she had wanted them away for an entirely different reason.

Jim, it had transpired,   (only two days earlier),  had happened to walk past the downstairs flat when the door was fully opened. He couldn’t help himself and he had quickly glanced into the flat. He had seen the near bald thug, stood within the room, with the landlady stood slightly behind him, and she had been trying, unsuccessfully, to slip out of Jim’s line of sight. They were both surrounded by cannabis plants on every surface. The thug looked up and saw Jim.  He wasn’t happy. He glared at Jim, then quickly walked forward towards him and slammed the door closed. As Jim walked away he could hear raised voices talking animatedly. They were clearly worried that their illegal activities had been exposed.

The next day the landlady had come around and given them a hard time about the rent that she said they owed. Jim, under some pressure, had, without thinking it through,  in the heat of the moment, said “Oh, so it’s ‘O.K’. for a tenant to grow weed here, but you would have us kicked out for owing you a few quid!” Jim had known as soon as the words had left his mouth that he had made a mistake.  (They later heard rumours that the landlady was defrauding the local authorities over council tax, and that she and the little thug had gangland  connections around the town and up-country).  Don’t ever be taken in by the ‘quaintness’ of small country towns, as in my experience I have found that there are usually at least a few nasty ‘low-lives’ living in those places too!

It had got far worse on the day Rosie rang me. The grass growing tenant from downstairs had paid Jim a visit. He had threatened to kill him if he ‘grassed him up’ to the police.  I don’t think he was bright enough to realise quite how funny his choice of words had been.  He went on to say that ‘the river was very deep, and they would never find his body if he talked to the cops’.  So no wonder then that Jim, and lovely Rosie, were in such a terrible mental state that night I drove up to Bideford.

I had a lovely little modern flat which had just recently become vacant, it was in a pretty location a few hours drive away.  I offered it to Rosie and Jim and they happily accepted. I advised them to leave the old rectory as quickly, and as quietly, as possible,  and to not tell anybody that they were leaving,   or where they were going. I had a few sleepless nights myself until I was able to finally hire a big Transit van and help them move away.

and now…….the very weird paranormal bit……..

‘The Rolling Stone’s Track That Wasn’t!’

On  one of their last days in the old rectory, Rosie and Jim had a ghostly, but very positive experience. They were listening to Jim’s retro 90’s C.D. 5 disc changer in the huge room. The C.D. player worked well enough but the radio had ‘died’ many years earlier. They were both getting ready to go out together with some  friends. There was only the one disc in the machine. It was ‘Let it Bleed’, a  Rolling Stones album. It had just finished, and Jim, (unknown to Rosie), had turned the C.D. player off, by its switch to the ‘Off’ position, as he had walked by it on his way to the dingy bathroom. He was heading there on his own to have a  quick wash, leaving Rosie all alone in the big room. Rosie was picking through her clothes, working out what to wear.

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Mick and ‘Keef’

 

When Jim came out from the shower, only a few minutes later, and walked back through the double swing doors,  there was a beautiful ballad  playing on the C.D. player. (Rosie hadn’t put it on, and she hadn’t known that Jim had turned the C.D. player off. She had quite naturally assumed that the track was on the C.D. that they had already been listening to). Later, both Jim and Rosie would say that the song offered them hope, and told them that everything would work out well for them in the end. They said it was as if the song was purely aimed at them, and them alone. They said it sounded like Mick Jagger singing a Stones acoustic ballad, but one that they had never heard before. (They are both Stones fans and have a fairly good knowledge of their songs, and not just the popular,  more commercial songs).

They both felt that they were temporarily in an other-worldly dream-state. They had felt tingles all over as they tearfully hugged and swayed to the gentle, beautiful music.   Jim asked Rosie what the C.D. playing was, assuming that she had put on another C.D. while he had been in the shower room. Rosie said “Well, I haven’t changed it, so it must be on the same C.D.” Jim then told her that he had turned the C.D. player off when he had left the room. It then dawned on both Rosie and Jim, at about the same time, that if Jim had turned it off, and, if Rosie hadn’t put on another C.D.,  then frankly, who had? They had both got ‘the chills’, the hairs on the back of their necks had stood up.   They got very emotional and clung to each other. Then the song abruptly ended, and as it did so, the C.D. player made a very loud clunking noise, as if the disc was changing, and then the C.D. player turned itself off.

Immediately after that, there had been a strange whooshing, howling gale sound. They turned around and watched spellbound as all of the curtains, along the 60 foot plus long wall, had blown up, one after the other, in a sort of ‘Mexican Wave’.  The five really long windows were all closed, as were the top fanlights, and there were no draughts that could have caused the sudden movements or noises. Tears streamed down their faces. Throughout all of this they had continued to cuddle. Rosie said it was the most amazing ‘rush’ that either of them had ever had, as it was so intense, so beautiful and so spiritually meaningful.

When they had calmed down, they checked that there was only the one C.D. in the player, and there was. They then searched through that Stones C.D. for the beautiful track that had so affected them both, to hear it again, but it just wasn’t on the C.D. They even waited at the end of the last listed track, (‘You can’t always get what you want’), to see if it could have been a ‘hidden track’. It wasn’t. There were no hidden, or bonus tracks on their C.D. Half an hour later a friend had arrived to pick them up to go to Barnstaple. He, seeing their dazed expressions, had said “Hey, what’s up with you guys? It looks like you just saw a ghost!” They told him their story, and he knew by their  red eyes, and their low, tearful voices that they were being genuine. Something odd had definitely happened.

Over the next few weeks they listened to that C.D. again, and again, and again, to try and find that one extra special beautiful track again. But they never could.  They also went online and went through every Stones track that they could possibly find.  I wonder if that Stones track had somehow slipped through from a parallel dimension into our world? A dimension where maybe Mick and ‘Keef’ hadn’t written ‘Fool to Cry’ or ‘Angie’, but maybe they had written an even better song? A dimension where perhaps Mick didn’t have those big lips, but perhaps he does have huge ears?! A dimension where they actually are ‘the Strolling Bones’ and not the Rolling Stones. Now, there’s a thought.

To this day, if I ask Rosie and Jim about that early evening at the old rectory, they still get very emotional, and they will say “I’ve got the chills just thinking about it!” They both feel that it was somebody, or something, some other kindly intelligence that was looking out for them, from some other place,  call it ‘Heaven’ if you want, who knows? They felt that whoever, or whatever it was, was just saying “Hey guys, keep your chins up, you will pull through all of these difficult times, and there are better days just around the corner”.  Strangely enough they had recently lost a close friend, a much older guy in his sixties, just a few months earlier, and he had been a musician…………….. and, wait for it, a massive Stones fan.

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A similar view, to the view from the flat where they now live.

There were better days ahead. They are still living in my lovely cosy little flat, with its gorgeous sea views, in the most beautiful part of this country. They have both got jobs, are slowly building some savings for the future, and they have a  healthy, happy life together. When they are not working they like to laze around on the beautiful local beaches, surf, kayak, swim, walk the coast path, or sit amongst the huge granite boulders on local hills having picnics, and checking out the wonderful vistas. They have made lots of new friends too, and their other older friends, from elsewhere in the country, still occasionally visit them too,  but only when they are invited. But most of all they still have each other.

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A favourite picnic spot

There is a small extra add-on  to this strange, roller coaster of emotions story. A week or so after their strange encounter, I took them both up to a village near Aldershot, (about 300 miles away from where they now live, to the southern edge of London), to stay with my eldest sister in her lovely home for the weekend.

They were sleeping in the usual guest’s spare bedroom. There are two single beds in the room with a small gap between them. Rosie and Jim were both in the same bed, the one opposite the outside wall. During the night, in the early hours, they had both woken up simultaneously and had seen a darkish, smokey shape, just floating above the other bed. They weren’t at all frightened by it, as they both felt it wasn’t hostile, and that it was just observing.

The next morning they shyly, almost reluctantly, told us their story at breakfast. My sister, a lovely lady who would probably prefer not to think about such things, said “Nobody else has ever said that, and lots of people have slept in that room”. Well, that was very true, I had slept in there many times myself, and I had never had a problem. (As I often tell my sister, it is without any doubt, the finest ‘hotel’ in Aldershot.) But I could tell that Rosie and Jim were wary of something that they had seen, and so  I  agreed to swap ‘my’ sofa downstairs for their upstairs bedroom the following night.

I woke up in the early hours, and yes, I did see something very odd too. The dark, smokey  shape that I saw reminded me of the Kellogg’s chicken head, but upside down, strangely enough. What was it? I have absolutely no idea. I laid there looking around the room trying to convince myself that it was just some sort of shadow, a trick of the light maybe. But I knew that it wasn’t. Like them, I didn’t feel at all threatened by it. In fact it seemed to be filling my head with the feeling that it was ‘friendly’.  In fact, it bothered me so little that I actually just got bored looking at it, and had eventually said, “Goodnight whoever you are, I’m going to sleep now”. (I’m not joking). Weird? Yes, very weird. I have been back there many times since and I always sleep in that little room, and ‘it’ has never been there since. Were these two strange events linked? Yes, I believe so, something benevolent was looking after  Rosie and Jim, perhaps it was somehow attached to one or other of them, and maybe it was just a little bit curious about me too.

Constructive comments below are very welcomed. Glowing praise even more so. It’s how I know that you have been here. Offers of highly paid writing gigs, though unlikely, would be lovely too. But just for the record, all spammers can just go and **** themselves.

All written work by Mark Anthony Wyatt, Bude, Cornwall. February, 2016.

Note; Any written work, music, images or videos that Mark Anthony Wyatt has created, remains his personal intellectual property! But any other images, videos, quotes etc., that were NOT created by me remain the intellectual property of those who created them, and NOT me! 

You can also find me on ‘Facebook’..@ ‘It’s a Dark, Dark Night’ or ‘Mark anthony Wyatt’.

markanthonywyatt.com

 

‘Monkee-ing around…anticipating the new Monkees album’

“Here they come, walking down the street, they’re getting funny looks from…….. everyone at the post office”….. (on pension day!)…..For those of you who care, (and yes, I do)…the 3 surviving Monkees, (Tork, Dolenz and Nesmith), are currently making a new album, (‘Good Times’), to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Yes, you read that right, a NEW album. ‘So what’, ‘big deal’, you may well think, (O.K., fair enough, each to their own…). But for me, and other music mad kids who were young enough to pick up on them when their T.V. show first hit Britain…we loved them, we loved their music and we loved their humour, and it IS a big deal. For those who were a few years older than us at the time, of course they mostly looked down on them as just a ‘kids band’, which perhaps they were at the time, but I’ll bet they all secretly sung along to all those classic songs when their mates weren’t around!

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The Monkees, circa ‘Headquarters’ era.

The Monkees have enrolled some guest songwriters for this new album, (just like the good old days), quality musicians who, like me, also loved the Monkees. They’ve got Paul Weller, (Yes , him from the Jam, and my home-town Woking), Rivers Cuomo, (Weezer’s main man, who’s music I have loved since ’96), Andy Partridge ( X.T.C.), Ben Gibbard, (Death Cab for Cutie), and even Noel Gallagher, (Oasis and Man City fan), a pretty strong line-up I reckon, and I look forward to hearing the results. My money’s on Partridge for the most ‘Monkee’ sounding song! There will also be contributions, made many years ago, by the great Harry Nilsson, and, of course, little Davy Jones himself…’Gor bless him Guv’!

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Nesmith in more recent years.

But for me the best songwriter of the lot, (yes, seriously), is their very own Mike Nesmith, who, for me, and many others, wrote their best songs back in the day, and went on to write many more later. He was rated by Lennon, Harrison and Zappa, among others! Forget your Hart, Boyce, Goffin, King, Mann, Weill, Douglas, Diamond and all , (as good as they all undoubtedly were), Nez songs had that certain extra special ‘something’ that just set them apart, that ‘something’ which put them on an altogether different, higher, almost, dare I say it, more ethereal level! When I heard that jangly Gretsch and his slow Texas drawl I knew it was another Nesmith gem heading my way. You can keep your ‘I’m a Believer’ and ‘I Wanna be Free’, I’ll take one of Nesmith’s quirkier songs every time. He was, and is, a general all round genius, he has crammed so much in since his youthful ‘Monkee’ days, but that alone is what he will be remembered for by ‘Joe and Jane Public’ when he sadly leaves us behind one day. It’s strange how the mainstream (music) media dictates who is ‘great’ and, by omission, who isn’t. But many of us, especially my fellow ‘Nez heads’, know that in life the best things are often well guarded secrets known only by the lucky few. He is, among many other things I’m sure, an art media innovator, (his work led directly to the ‘invention’ of the music video and M.T.V.), a philanthropist, an author, a storyteller supreme, a producer, and also a naturally sharp and funny guy, and that’s why I still care!

Mike Nesmith…….

For those of you who still like to repeat that tired old chestnut “They never played their own instruments, and they never wrote their own songs”. You are only half-right. (Do the research). Both Nesmith and Tork were already on the folk music circuit in N.Y.C., and were skillful musicians and growing performers. Jones and Dolenz, it is true, were actors and not bona fide musicians, but it would be churlish not to accept that Dolenz has an amazing voice; (check out his amazing version of the old hymn ‘Oh, little town of Bethlehem’), and Jones too, (R.I.P.,) although his voice is not so much to my taste, but there’s no denying that he was very good at the occasional cabaret type number or ballad.

It is true, however, that their albums and singles, especially the early ones, were often played on by professional session musicians, and that many of the songs were written by composers such as those I mentioned earlier. But in those days that wasn’t so unusual, so why pick on them? It should also be noted, to their credit, that they did increasingly take ‘ownership’ of their albums in both the writing and producing, and while not actually putting out an entire album of their own material, they did have a heavy creative input on both ‘Headquarters’ and ‘The Birds and the Bees…’, a testament to the very fast learning curve they were on, which is always overlooked by those who like to ‘rubbish’ them. They did this because they had pride in themselves and their own increasingly creative abilities and musicianship. They were fast outgrowing the ‘apron strings’ of their first years, and it should also be remembered that they were still very young. Check out the two albums I mentioned and hopefully you will hear the variety and depth of their work, and off the top of my head, from memory, you may hear what I can hear, the influence of their finest contemporaries, (they were soaking it all up like a musical sponge), shining through in their songs, that of Arthur Lee’s incredible band ‘Love’ and the Beatles, to name but two. There was even a 1920s jazz influence from Nesmith on ‘Magnolia Simms’!

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Rivers Cuomo

 

As a ‘proper’, but very short-lived, live band, (I’m not talking ‘post’ the first break-up), they very much learnt on the job, always in the public eye in front of their screaming young fans. (Most of us played in our garages or village halls first!) It was said that when they came over to Britain for the first time they had only just begun to gel into a proper band, and for those who actually listened they sounded more like a raw garage band than an alleged cheesy pop group! But the problem was that their young fans, well the girls anyway, weren’t really listening at all, they were all far too busy screaming “Davy! Davy! Davy!” and wetting their knickers.
As I got older I got into many other genres of music. Everything from Slade to the Undertones, to Stevie Wonder, via the Wedding Present, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Teenage Fanclub, the Faces, Weezer, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel  and the Jam, and many dozens of other bands and artistes in-between! In more recent years I’ve discovered the likes of John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Morgan T Davis, the Milk Carton Kids, the Felice Brothers, early jazz, and, yes, Nesmith’s (4 decades + worth) of solo work. But the ‘harmony constant in all of these things’……..(A little joke there for those in the know)….is that I still like to play Monkees C.D.s in my car, and at home, every now and then, and that my kids love them too! They deserve their place in pop’s great canon, they have worked bloody hard for it.

Micky Dolenz telling a lovely little story about how he came to write ‘Randy Scouse Git’.

Constructive comments below are very welcomed. Glowing praise even more so. It’s how I know that you have been here. Offers of highly paid writing gigs, though unlikely, would be lovely too. But just for the record, all spammers can just go and **** themselves.

All written work by Mark Anthony Wyatt, Bude, Cornwall. February, 2016.

Note; Any written work, music, images or videos that Mark Anthony Wyatt has created, remains his personal intellectual property! But any other images, videos, quotes etc., that were NOT created by me remain the intellectual property of those who created them, and NOT me! 

You can also find me on ‘Facebook’..@ ‘Wyatt’s Rebellion!’ or ‘Mark anthony Wyatt’.

markanthonywyatt.com

 

‘The Man from Atlantis’

Note……Before we begin, I’d just like to point out that almost all of the names of the local ‘Bude’ characters, in this mostly true aquatic tale, have been changed to protect their privacy, spare their blushes, and, yes, probably to protect me from them if they should recognise themselves!

At sometime not long after the turn of the ‘new’ Millennium,  on a late Friday morning in July, the word had got around that there was a local crew driving down the coast from Bude to Bossiney for a surf.  I was at the time, when the call came through to Jimmie, gardening on a little job with him on a small property high on the cliffs above Millook.

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We were working very close to where this photo was taken, just a little bit higher up the road, when we received the call…..

I was new to surfing and only been ‘in’ a few times. I could hear the conversation, (if you could call it that), it was another friend of ours, Ronnie, a guy that didn’t waste too many words, and all he said to Jimmie was “Surf Jimmie? Bossinney?”  Jimmie, also a man of few words, unless he was talking about his amazing exploits on the football pitch, or about the latest album by the bland Coldplay, (and no, that wasn’t a spelling error), had looked over to me and simply substituted his name for mine by saying “Surf Geordie? Bossiney?” (That was their nickname for me, because I had recently moved to Cornwall from Northumberland).

I hadn’t needed much persuading. It had been a long, tiresome week and I needed some ‘R and R’. We swiftly packed all of our gardening tools away into our own vehicles, and then we both drove back to my place. I parked up my van and quickly grabbed my board and wet-suit from the garden shed, and a bath towel off the washing line. I put them into the back of Jimmie’s van, and then jumped up into the cab alongside him. Jimmie, a proper surfer, was of course already prepared as his board and wet-suit always went everywhere with him.

There were a fair few vehicles in our little surfing convoy driving the short trip down from Bude that day. We were people from all walks of life, there were two gardeners of course, a plumber, an optician, an office clerk from the local builder’s merchants, (who was off ‘ill’), an unemployed lad, at least one unemployable lad, a surfboard shaper, a student, a mechanic, a doctor, a joiner, a teacher, and the best carpet fitter in the country. (You can put the cheque in the post, ha, ha!) We were just one big happy, watery fraternity. There weren’t any artificial class lines drawn on our sand. We were all in it together (the sea that is)! Just as the Cornish motto says…”One and All!”

The surfboard and surfer laden vehicles in our convoy included Ronnie’s trusty, ever present  ‘old school’ V.W. camper van, (see my previous story), Jimmie’s flash new V.W. van,  various other work vans,   a few family estates, and some real old bangers too.  We soon arrived, and we parked-up just off of the ‘B’ road that connects Tintagel to Boscastle, alongside a beech hedge on the perimeter of a cliff-top field. We all quickly changed into our surfing gear at the side of the road, (dodging the speeding locals, whilst balancing on one leg,  trying desperately to put my wetsuit on without falling into the road in my case), and then we all dodged the cattle across a cow-pat covered field towards the cliff edge.

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Bossiney

We had to climb down a 400 feet plus cliff side. The other Cornish ‘beys’ and ‘maids’ had been going there for many years and knew the rickety old spiral walkway well.  As we all gingerly walked down, it had creaked and groaned under our  combined weights. The strong sea-breezes kept blowing my surfboard violently around, threatening to knock  Jimmie over the iron hand-rail and down towards an untimely, painful death on the jagged, vicious rocks below.  I was relieved to finally put my feet down on to the warm sand.

We walked through a throng of happy sun worshipping tourists, many of them Dutch and German.  A sweet little girl with cute blonde ringlets pointed at me as I walked through their midst, and she said “Look Mummy, a proper surfer man”.  I looked around to see him too, only to realise that I was at the end of our line and she had meant me. ‘Mummy’ was quite unimpressed and she stifled a giggle. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a boy in a boy-band being mistaken for a musician. The other guys and girls were indeed all ‘proper surfers’, most of them had looked the part too with their sun-kissed tans and long flowing locks, but as for me I may have looked a little bit like one in my wet-suit, with my board tucked under my arm,  but I knew that I wasn’t a ‘proper’ surfer, or at least I knew that I wasn’t one just yet!

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Mr Zog’s Sex Wax!

The others all ran quickly into the sea. After a last minute wax down with ‘Mr Zog’s Sex Wax’ and attaching the leash to my ankle I ran in too. The conditions were very flat, but looking on the bright side I knew I wouldn’t be taking another heavy wave pounding like I had at Widdie a few weeks earlier.  There weren’t any waves as such, just gentle little ripples.  I was happy to just paddle out to just beyond the breaking surf, and relax on my board,  enjoying the sunshine on my back.

Every now and then there was a gentle ripple of seawater that would run around me on its way towards the beach, sending delightful little sensual shivers right through my entire body. The others were a longer distance ‘out the back’. They were just lazing around too, discussing the previous night’s antics in the pub and making general surfing ‘chit-chat’. Occasionally one or more of them would break-away from the ‘surfing chat-room’ and paddle in front of an approaching slightly bigger wave. They would then briefly rise up, like graceful ballet dancers, or a trout rising to a mayfly, onto their feet, before diving, or jumping off a few seconds or so later. This ‘Bossiney wave’ was a glassy, mellow sort of a wave. In musical terms the ‘Widdie wave’ which had battered me so, had been like the ‘Sex Pistols’, it was aggressive and loud, but the Bossiney wave was more like the Eagles, it was, I had briefly thought, easy going and gentle. I decided to join the others  for a bit of banter, and it was so easy to paddle out to them. The sun was glinting off the calm sea. I was beginning to unwind a little and feel like a proper surfer now.

Eventually, a bit bored by the surfing gossip I had decided to paddle back towards the beach again, and to lie on my board a bit closer to the small breakers. I laid there  continuing to soak up the warmth of the Sun’s rays, and I did  some ‘people watching.’   All of the time these little cool ripples of water  kept passing right through me; it was exquisite. What I hadn’t perhaps realised, in my relaxed state, was that I was slowly drifting into the water where the waves were breaking. I had been totally misled by appearances. The ‘Bossiney wave’, whilst very small in stature, is actually  very powerful; it was the Charlie Magri of waves!

All of a sudden, taking me completely by surprise, one of these powerful little waves  picked me and my board right up and, like a legendary giant from Lyonesse, it had hurled us both ferociously towards the shingly beach where all the tourists were sunning themselves. It had all happened so quickly and so unexpectedly. One moment there I had been lying sunbathing on my board, happily watching the  pretty girls applying their sun tan creams, and then the next I had been lying prostrate on the stony beach with my face a good foot deeper than the rest of my body. I had just experienced my first ‘beach-dump’.

How not to approach and chat up an attractive lady on the beach……

I slowly raised my head up. I snorted seawater out of my nostrils, spat out shingle, shells,  seaweed, and thousands of tiny particles of plastic, and rubbed bits of tiny grit out of my face. I then saw, only about eighteen inches in front of me on the sand, a pair of golden brown sandy feet in a pair of red flip-flops! These, I noticed, upon closer inspection, were attached to a pair of well bronzed and very shapely female legs, which in turn belonged to a very pretty ‘thirty something’ lady. She had beautiful long straight black hair, parted in the middle and swept back behind her cute little ears.  My eyes travelled slowly upwards from my prone position on the beach, on a journey of delightful discovery.  She was sat in a deck chair alongside a grumpy looking middle-aged guy who I assumed to be her partner. She was wearing a red bikini, and reading one of those  glossy Cornish monthly magazines that the tourists and Cornish ex-pats like to read.

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The lovely lady was reading a glossy Cornish mag much like this one.

She lowered her expensive sunglasses to see what had so suddenly,  and so unexpectedly,  arrived at her feet. Our eyes met. Maybe she had just put out a little prayer, asking ‘god’ for a short, stocky, bronzed, good-looking surfer? (Well, I’m sure that even ‘god’ fu**s up from time to time). But she had seemed quite unfazed to see me laying there so close to her sandy flip-flops. She smiled down at me. “Do you come here often?” She said in a very sexy, cultured, and husky voice. I laughed, impolitely spat out some lingering shingle, and replied. “Damn! You beat me to it, that was going to be my line!”

“Well, you’ll just have to just think of another one now”. She giggled.  “O.K.” I had replied. “My submarine has just sunk, I’m the only survivor, and I don’t suppose you could put me up for the night could you?”

“Oh, dear.” She said. “You’ll have to do much better than that, I’m a classy girl you know, and I’ve got my standards.” There was an impatient, angry cough for attention from her miserable looking partner, who, to be frank, had a face that only a mother could love, and frankly she would struggle too. He gave me one of those ‘hands off she’s mine’ sort of looks and said, in very measured, concise public school tones,  “When you think you have seen quite enough of my wife’s body I would appreciate it if you would just pick yourself and your damn surfboard up, and f**k off back into the sea where you bloody well came from.” (Who did he think I was? The Man from Atlantis perhaps?)

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The Man from Atlantis…..I couldn’t resist this one!

He followed this up with a sharp reprimanding look at the gorgeous lady. In return she gave him a look that said “Who got out of bed the wrong side this morning Tarquin?” She looked back down at me, smiled, winked, and  said “Take no notice of ‘Mr Grumpy Pants’ he scratched his brand new B.M.W. on some of your Cornish brambles this morning”. She then raised her sunglasses back up and continued reading her glossy Cornish mag.

The feature she was reading was standard fare for those sort of magazines. It was an article about some rich Southerners who had sold their mansion in Oxford and bought a small farm in Crackington Haven. Apparently they were struggling to make ends meet in Cornwall, and they had had to let the au-pair go, start maintaining their own garden, do their own housework, sell off one of their Audis,  and take young Sebastian out of his public school. The poor dears. Life really was throwing everything at them. I do hope that they survived all of the turmoil.

I painfully rose to my feet and spat out a few more bits of hard to shift and lingering shingle. I was briefly tempted to have a little dig back at ‘Mr Grumpy Pants’ but I didn’t want to spoil anybodys day, not even his. I picked up my board which had settled a little bit to my right, and then carelessly turned around back towards the sea and my mates. As I did so I almost smacked him on his head with the business pointy end of my board, but  luckily for him he had seen it coming and had ducked just in time!  The lovely lady had been watching my departure over the top of her sunglasses, and she laughed, but sadly that just had the effect of annoying him even more. He stood up and yelled “Damn surfers! They think they own the bloody beach!” I tried not to laugh and carried on walking out into the sea with a big smile on my face. My work there was done.

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Patrick Duffy, T.V.’s ‘Man from Atlantis’ emerges from the sea, but not at Bossiney.

Jimmie had seen my epic ‘beach-dump’ and its aftermath, (named because that’s what the wave does to you, it dumps you on the beach like a load of washed up, discarded sea debris). He was still laughing; he had thought it hilarious. “So Geordie, did you get her number? Surely there must have been an easier and more dignified way of approaching her?”

“No”, I said, “I don’t think Tarquin would have been too keen on the idea.”

Oh, that’s a shame “, said Jimmie, “She looks really lovely from here”. I assured him that she looked even lovelier close-up.

“Oh, and by the way Geordie, don’t be misled by how small ‘the wave’ is here at Bossiney, it still packs a very powerful punch you know!” I sarcastically thanked him for his belated concern, and said that I would be sure to look out for it in the future. Jimmie told me that ‘beach dumps’ are like a rite of passage for all new surfers,  and that all surfers have experienced them at some point. “It happens to the best of us Geordie,  but it just wouldn’t do to warn a novice of the dangers, because that would only spoil everybody else’s fun!”

But I like to think that I made that lovely young lady’s day just that little bit more exciting than it might otherwise have been, had I not have landed at her feet. I wonder if she is still in a relationship with that chinless wonder, and whether she still remembers her holidays in Cornwall that year, and the lanky, hopeless surfer in the antique wet-suit who had briefly disturbed her reading.

The End.

Constructive comments below are very welcomed. Glowing praise even more so. It’s how I know that you have been here. Offers of highly paid writing gigs, though unlikely, would be lovely too. But just for the record, all spammers can just go and **** themselves.

All written work by Mark Anthony Wyatt, Bude, Cornwall. March 22nd, 2015. Edited Feb, 2016.

Note; Any written work, music, images or videos that Mark Anthony Wyatt has created, remains his personal intellectual property! But any other images, videos, quotes etc., that were NOT created by me remain the intellectual property of those who created them, and NOT me!

You can also find me on ‘Facebook’ as Mark Anthony Wyatt and @ ‘It’s a Dark, Dark Night’

markanthonywyatt.com