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April 10, 2006

Some Dump - And Such A Waste

…The one-time city’s streets and roads had been cleared, displaying a gridiron of rubble-filled enclosures. Flatness spread across the field of vision with the exception of the easily recognisable skeleton-domed structure, preserved for posterity as memorial to that fateful event.

For ourselves at the time, all we could do was wander around the barrenness. Each pathway was much as another. Each angle of sight presented the same prospect of desolation and destruction. Amongst that dilapidation we discovered what had once been an engineering works with, by then, its machinery remains rusted over, yet still bearing that famous logo ‘Made in England’. There were no people around, no wildlife. We seemed to be the only wanderers in that man-made wilderness….

Tom Hellawell, nearing the end of his service in the Royal Navy, visited Hiroshima, one year after an atomic bomb was dropped on the city.

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March 27, 2006

Some Aspects Of Gardening

…Anyone who has had dealings with gardening will be well aware of the persistent infestation of weeds. ‘Weeds’ being the generic term for unwanted outgrowth. There are others, many of a more colourful nature, but one lad I know had coined his own title. He referred to them as ‘sooners’. As soon as you pull them up, others take their place… Tom Hellawell remembers gardening “disasters’’.

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March 13, 2006

Rank Humour

An alternative title for this column by Tom Hellawell could be Laughter In Uniform.

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February 27, 2006

Looking Eastward

…British style trams clanked their way along the centre of the roads, whilst rickshaws were in profusion, hauled along by their owners who ran hot-footed wherever space permitted.

Comfortably ensconced in such a vehicle, secluded beneath the large canopy, sheltered from rain or sun, one rode, as it were, in state, drawn along by the muscle power of one’s personal chauffeur. With a good road surface the ride was silent, smooth and surprisingly swift…

Tom Hellawell recalls Hong Kong as it was in the mid-1940s.

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February 13, 2006

Sports And Pastimes

Tom Hellawell remembers the merry madcap roughneck days of his Yorkshire boyhood.

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January 30, 2006

Life's Ups And Downs

“Should a wave trough be bottomed, the entire assemblage of food left the tray and became airborne. Then the stratagem was to catch the whole lot when it descended, hopefully in some semblance of order. Otherwise the individual items ended up in a squelchy mass, partly on the tray and partly on the deck, and there was no chance of a second tray, not until the next mealtime that is…’’ Tom Hellawell recalls life at sea in the Royal Navy – and a shore visit to Hong Kong.

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January 16, 2006

Travels Back In Time

“There were two major events in my father’s lifetime which severely curtailed his ramblings. One was the slump in trade during the 20s and 30s when, like millions of other men, he was unemployed, and the second was the unscheduled arrival of myself. Combined, those two occurrences put the chocks under father’s wandering wheels…’’ Writing with great good humour Tom Hellawell recalls the events which reined in his father’s wanderlust.

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January 02, 2006

Village Ways

“His mother kept a house-shop, a few boxes of spice on top of the kitchen dresser under the window. Nothing much, and it didn’t always pay. One time Leslie told me that my ha’penny was the only one spent there that particular day. Like many fathers of the time, his was on the dole…’’ Tom Hellawell remembers former times and village ways.

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December 05, 2005

From India's Coral Strand To England's Icy Waters

Tom Hellawell sails from the Far East, back to England, as his three-and-a-half-year career in the Royal Navy comes to an end. But there’s a stop-over in Gibraltar for the horrid task of painting ship.

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November 21, 2005

Birds Of A Feather

“…a friend of mine, Geoffrey Harker, out of the blue as it were, announced that in years gone by his mother’s uncle trained skylarks to sing. There’s a good show-stopper, rather on the lines of taking coals to Newcastle. Nevertheless it was true….’’ Tom Hellawell shares some avian reminiscences.

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November 07, 2005

Far-Away Places

“Going on deck one morning shortly afterwards with the water flat calm, I was astounded to see that we were steaming close to the centre of the largest gathering of ships I had ever seen -- then or since. It was, if not the entire, then a large portion of the Allied Pacific Fleet, dotted all around. The family was united…’’ Tom Hellawell recalls war-time days when he served in the Royal Navy.

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October 24, 2005

Sounds Nostalgic

.”There was always the distant whistle of a train and the clang of goods wagons buffers in a shunting yard, but then would follow a pealing of bells, bells of all descriptions, large, small, booming, tinkling, clanging, brash, demure, their decibels rising and falling in individual agitation….’’ Tom Hellawell recalls the sounds of yester-year.

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October 10, 2005

Schoolboy Ways In Junior Days

“There was one boy who fell from social esteem because of his tendency towards theft. Indeed, he was eventually dispatched to a reformatory school for his misdeeds. Yet today his name graces the local roll of honours, testimony to his last act on this earth, the sacrifice of his life in defence of his country…’’ Tom Hellawell recalls characters from his schooldays.

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September 26, 2005

Cruising Round About

"...There were no heroics, no deeds of derring-do, no perilous adventures, since the enemy was constantly somewhere else...'' While the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Wrangler is on patrol in the Pacific in the latter days of World War Two Tom Hellawell relieves the tedium of night watches by counting shooting stars.

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September 12, 2005

Potted History

"Cups and saucers were allowed house room but their usage was confined to special occasions - weddings, funerals and better days than Sundays...'' Tom Hellawell recalls gill pots, pint pots and beakers.

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August 29, 2005

Bottled Friendships

Royal Navy man Tom Hellawell goes on shore leave in Australia, there to be confronted by boiled eggs and rum.

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August 15, 2005

Passing Thoughts - One Word Leads To Many

"We had fun and we were happy.'' Tom Hellawell remembers in fine detail the days of his childhood.

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August 01, 2005

An Egg-Sample Of Australian Hospitality

"My lasting memory of that episode is of myself yapping away to the fourth member of the group - who, it transpired, was a colonel in the Australian army - my elbow on the grocery counter and a foot in a box of onions...'' Royal Navy man Tom Hellawell is somewhat overwhelmed by Australian hospitality.

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July 18, 2005

Ours Were Thoughtful Pleasures

"Throwing stones at dustbins was another happy pastime...'' Tom Hellawell tells of naughty boyhood pranks.

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July 04, 2005

Smells Different

Tom Hellawell strides out on a pungent walk down memory lane.

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June 20, 2005

Communion With Nature

"Kingfisher days when the world of nature openend like an oyster, and we peered, probed and prodded what was to us the mysterious squelchy contents of the creations around us...'' Tom Hellawell recalls in extraordinary detail the ways in which lads of his generation came face to face with the natural world.

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June 06, 2005

Common Ways And Lowside Tales

The inimitable Tom Hellawell recalls, in vigorous Yorkshire language, boyhood games on high and low ground.

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May 23, 2005

Changing Lights

Tom Hellawell remembers the times when a coal fire in the grate was a living entity, a part of the family, a member to be tended and fed.

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May 09, 2005

Brief Memories From Down Under

"The sun shone. The skies were blue, the water tranquil even if it was midwinter, and the broad harbour spread before us in greeting, unlike the daubed message on the wall of the dockland warehouse...Pommies Go Home...'' While serving in the war-time British Navy Tom Hellawell sails into Sydney harbour.

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April 25, 2005

Tales Out Of School

Tom Hellawell, writing with great gusto, recalls his schooldays - and the astonishing cast of characters who attempted to teach him.

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April 11, 2005

Memory Row

"Our whole row displayed ruddled flags with doorstep and windowsill edgings piped with scouring stone, this latter courtesy usually of Bridlington beach...'' Tom Hellawell recalls the house where he spent the first 15 years of his life.

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March 28, 2005

Drake Went That-a-way

"May, 1945. The ship on which I had served my country with total devotion - almost - was destined to fulfil its final purpose, namely conversion into razor blades...'' After the conclusion of the War in the West,Tom Hellawell finds himself bound for Australia.

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March 14, 2005

Memories Of Mauritius - Or Cruising Capers

There seemed to be an unwritten naval law which stated that when crews from different vessels foregathered in any drinking establishment, then hostilities should occur between them, even though they were in the same navy, writes Tom Hellawell, who served on the cruiser HMS Mauritius in the 1940s.

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February 28, 2005

Past Pleasures

"A catalogue of what I miss from times gone by may be reminders of a less affluent society than today's, but they seem to make for an age of contentment and security,'' says Tom Hellawell in this tasty slice of his early Yorkshire life.

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February 14, 2005

Riding On Air

Bike riding was the done thing in the 1930's, says Tom Hellawell as he fondly recalls his first two-wheeler.

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January 31, 2005

Yo, Ho, Oh! No Bottle Of Rum?

Tom Hellawell says that during his years with the Royal Navy, the Senior Service, the daily supply of Nelson's Blood (rum) was time-honoured and an almost sacred tradition.

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January 17, 2005

Character Studies

When a proposal was made to put a gondola on South Ossett park lake Joe Nettleton, the local Mayor, said "Good idea, but let's have two. They might mate.''

Tom Hellawell has fun remembering the village characters he knew as a boy.

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December 13, 2004

The Days Of Wars And Cruises

In 1944, with a railway travel warrant in one pocket and a potted-meat teacake in the other, Tom Hellawell went off to fight the war. Read his wonderfully amusing account of his days in the Royal Navy.

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November 29, 2004

Who's A Clever Boy Then?

"My creation wasn't planned,'' says the inimitable Tom Hellawell. "I can imagine that my forthcoming presence must have been a shock to my parents, since they had been married some fourteen years with no previous issue.''

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November 15, 2004

Thoughts For A Penny

Tom Hellawell writes of the days when a penny seemed like real wealth to a small child.

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October 25, 2004

Humour Amongst The Pots And Pans

Tom Hellawell noticed many a reason for a good chuckle during a stay in hospital.

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October 04, 2004

Fresh Greens And Woods Anew

Flat caps could be batted against dusty footwear prior to entering a pub or church. They could be battered against some recalcitrant youngster. Kettles or pans of boiling water might be lifted from the fire-hob using a cap in lieu of today's oven glove. Tom Hellawell recalls the clothes worn by our fathers and grandfathers.

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August 30, 2004

Bang Boom And Wollop

Tom Hellawell confeses to a boyhood fascination for bangs and guns.

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July 19, 2004

Home Rule By Petticoat Government

Even Sunday School bun-fight sandwiches cut in triangles would be thought of as posh and upper class. Tom Hellawell writes of a time when English folk knew their place in the social pecking order.

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June 21, 2004

Wanderings

Bat and ball would be discarded and we would be climbing a tree or walking along the top of a wall. Tom Hellawell remembers his boyhood days.

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June 07, 2004

Passing Clouds

A ha-porth of Dolly mixture looked like Blackpool illuminations and freshly ruddled flags made you blink your eyes. Tom Hellawell recalls rare splashes of colour in the drab sooty days of yesteryear.

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May 24, 2004

Training Days And Coaching Frolics

Tom Hellawell recalls the clickety-clack of the great days of steam-powered railways.

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May 10, 2004

What A Thing To Say

Tom Hellawell says that throughout history children have copied adults - particularly when it comes to using words.

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April 26, 2004

Another Opening, Another Show

Tom Hellawell recalls the first day of World War Two - and the mournful drone of an air-raid siren.

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April 12, 2004

A Round Of Song

The bravest man was Captain Brown and he played his ukelele as the ship went down... Tom Hellawell sifts through some musical memories.

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March 28, 2004

A Little Teller Of Tall Tales

Tom Hellawell writes about a village character who was a compulsive teller of tall tales.

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March 15, 2004

A Brush And Wash-Up

Tom Hellawell recalls house cleaning of yester-year, including a visit from the chimney sweep.

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February 06, 2004

There Never Were Such Times

Tom Hellawell writes of those strange days known as the phoney war shortly after the outbreak of World War Two.

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January 19, 2004

Some Folk Take Some Suiting

This week Tom Hellawell takes a look at clothing fashions down the ages.

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January 12, 2004

What were little boys made of?

Youngsters were attracted to mill dams in bygone days. Water was always a magnet for lads, provided it was not connected with soap.

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