Here we are now at stage two of the exit from our long winter lockdown. I have in fact been living in lockdown conditions since 5th November what with lockdown 2 followed by tier 4 zone restrictions which was followed by lockdown 3. Con has been in lockdown right the way through ever since the first lockdown started nearly 13 months ago. So how nice it was to actually go out somewhere other than the local Tesco’s store for essential shopping from last Monday. I had a lovely gander around the non-essential shops in Ashford and picked up some bargains. However it isn’t easy to stay out for too long because the inside cafes have not yet opened up again and there is little choice of outside eateries. So without the chance of refreshments halfway through any sprees, there are still limitations. Con for one appreciates going out to play golf although he said they have to book well in advance and spaces remain very few. At least he was able to grab two appointments when he last spoke to us about it. Dec has enjoyed having his family over to visit for socially distanced al fresco meals and a walk around his local area. Hopefully in time we will all be able to do more things. It is worrying though about the outbreaks of the South African variant at 3 areas in London. And the new Indian variant. The scientists are giving out warnings of a third wave in the summer. I hope we won’t have a never-ending cycle of lockdowns and loosening of restrictions. That would surely ruin so many businesses who have been struggling since April 2020. Hopefully those of us who have been vaccinated will be OK but we have been advised to remain extremely cautious just the same. I am looking forward to having a snack inside a café from next month and maybe I will regain some confidence of travelling on trains once I have received my second jab. Then we have our holiday to look forward to. We booked a cottage in Devon for a week in August.
Con and Dec have been so good to us fans by hosting tremendously fantastic Zoom meetings for us on a weekly basis. Although they have all been excellent right from the start, they still seemed to get better and better as the weeks flew by. And the final weekly meeting last Sunday (11th April) ended with the most fantastic climax of all with their rendition of “Holy City”. It was just absolutely stunning. I reckon that particular show will be viewed on You Tube a lot more frequently than any others because all devoted Bachelors fans are wanting a daily fix of watching that song many times over. Con has his parts recorded and he sends it all to Dec. Then Dec puts his recordings together with Con’s making it look as though they really are together rather than Con being in Elland and Dec being in Eastbourne. As Dec started out as a Design Engineer, he has the knowledge and did the ground-work and studies to prepare himself for what was to come along 40 or so years later with the computer age. He sets it all up and adds pictures and colourful backgrounds that he sources through the internet. Plus any sound effects such as chiming bells. He puts everything together in such a professional way and the end result is just out of this world. It is so fascinating that a man of Dec’s age has achieved and mastered video recordings of such a high standard when many other people of the same age would have given up with it all a long time ago. I am almost lost for words to describe it all because his efforts are more than stunning. Everything he does is a real piece of art-work and very cleverly done. All of the work the boys have done on our behalf has taken up many hours of their time and in Dec’s case, he has often worked through the night putting it all together on a weekly basis. But as we are starting to emerge from the national lockdown, the boys announced now is the time to put the brakes on and they will present their shows on a monthly basis as from 2nd May. As much as we would love to carry on seeing the boys every week, we must accept that they need to slow down and have free time to themselves to spend with their families and on their own different hobbies. The lockdown was good for us in the way it brought weekly Bachelors shows into our homes but now is the time for us to find other things to do. Our Sunday afternoons will no doubt feel empty to start with – but hey, we are all very resourceful people, we can find other things to do to fill our time. Even if it’s watching past Bachelors shows on You Tube!!! Now that is a very good idea to solve any withdrawal symptoms we may suffer from!!! But joking aside – I know we will look forward to each monthly meeting and will enjoy them all the more.
It will be easier for me to conjour up birthdays each time because there is at least one for every month of the year from the regular crowd of us who like to join in. August is the most popular month. The birthday for the last weekly meeting was my husband Kevin’s. It is so funny to hear Dec’s different stories about where he bought that week’s cake from. Kevin’s came from Harrods apparently. And Sandy was reported to have burned a hole in their lounge carpet by making the candles. A previous birthday cake was bought in Antarctica. The crazy stories add a lot of fun to our meetings and make us laugh.
Question times are good too. We can never tell what the boys will ask next and we have all been chosen one by one at various times to give our own answers and take on with whatever is asked. I will have to throw some of those questions back to Con and Dec to add to my blogs. Now they are to have more time on their hands it will be easy for them to bash out quick answers by email to me.
One of Con and Dec’s recent questions was “What lie do you remember telling as a child when knew it was not true”. Of-course they picked on me and I could only fall back on the one and only lie I ever told at that time when I must have been 8 or 9 years old. It was about an old smelly lady called Mrs Taylor who we all nick-named as Daisy Crockett who lived in Greenhithe where my family also lived at the time during the 1960s. She stank to high heaven and the shopkeepers had to spray their shops out with Haze after she had been in them. I made up a story about her dragging me along the road and telling me off. I think it was part of a vendetta we all had against her as children from the local village school. As you know the more horrible someone or something is, the more interest from children is aroused and my friends and I were no different in that respect compared to children of today. My lie was part of our joint conspiracy to get Daisy Crockett into trouble. She was certainly admonished by my Dad. No doubt he received a tirade of foul swear words for his effort because that was Daisy Crockett’s only way of conversing – with every other word starting with F. She called me Lynch. And when she next saw me after the telling off Dad gave her, she called me over as “Hoy you Lynch” and told me she was going to be put into prison and to be fined £200 (quid).
I looked through past newsletters and found one article written by Dec when he was a bit of a naughty boy – so no doubt a few porkies were told at that time in order for him to not be in trouble. Or maybe he was just economical with the truth. And he admitted his antics were rumbled. So here is his story as told in the March 2017 newsletter.
Many flashbacks come back thick and fast when I experienced the first one.
“Mitching” from the convent school, or truant as we now call it. I can still see myself in Elvery’s store toy department. I put my eye on a toy Anti-Aircraft gun with its spring mechanism to fire matchsticks. The flashback tells me I walked out of the store without paying. Come to think of it, where would I get the money to pay for it? That little gun and the matches nearly cost us our lives! At Christmas that year, my father and Con put up all the paper chains which had been carefully folded and put away after last year’s festivities. I was left alone in our dining room…. What got into me? I decided to fire lit matches from my little gun to see how high they would go. Whoops, big mistake!!!
Sure enough about the third one got so high it stuck in the paper chains… with the accumulated dust from years of use, and we all know that dust “explodes” … the room was engulfed in flames within seconds. Paper chains falling down as their middles were burned through… Flames cascading… it was pretty – if only it wasn’t so serious… luckily my father and Con, with our screaming mother came rushing in. Chaos could have killed us but my father was extremely well versed in emergency fire drill as he had been a huge force with the ARP (the volunteer fire and rescue service during the war).
Peace was restored and as usual, with a ‘serious’ incident, not a word was said to me in reprimand… a close shave?
The family story went that when my mother suspected I was missing from school, she took me personally into the convent one day to be greeted by the head nun. “Oh Declan where have you been? We’ve missed you”. The game was well and truly up.
As I grew, my neighbourhood pals and I used to spend long languid summers ‘down the park’ as we said. How come we always remember the summers as being scorching hot and long?
‘Down the park’ was an euphemism for an adventurous walk to Memorial Park – about two miles from my home. On the way through the village of Inchicore (village status has now been given back to Inchicore) we would stop outside the Protestant Church… poke our heads through the railings and try to spot the ‘Protestants’. What a weird thing to do? But we were so brainwashed by the local Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate priests that we were convinced we could recognise a protestant if we saw one. The sallow skin would give them away, we thought. It is funny to realise that I have many priest friends today… totally different to the bigoted lot in my childhood. All Catholics were banned from attending and non-Catholic churches and certainly banned from attending Trinity College in Dublin… recognised as one of the finest universities in the world.
…. There are other stories of Dec sneaking out when he was older to appear in local gigs with Con … while his mother thought he was at home studying as he was still at school then. So there must be many times when he climbed out of his bedroom window and shimmied down the drain pipe and was off to join Con.
I couldn’t find any stories of Con getting up to mischief. Maybe he never did…perhaps he was the model son for his parents. But what I did find, was a story that related to one which Con told us at a recent meeting about the summer of 1976 when The Bachelors appeared at The Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth for that long summer season.
I remember the summer season we did in Bournemouth in 1976. It went on record as being the hottest summer. Dec and I had a speedboat which we kept in harbour and used for water skiing. One day a chap from the chandlers shop approached me and asked if I wanted to buy a bigger boat. Apparently it belonged to Freddie Starr who had bought it to impress the girls, but it wasn’t big enough for his purposes. He had paid £3,000 for it and I offered £1,500 cash which he accepted.
I had joined Parkstone Golf Club for the summer and I played golf every morning starting at 9.30am. And then met my wife Kay and the children at the harbour at lunchtime where we would walk on board the boat and have a picnic out in the bay. I had a long rope to which I tied to the buoys which I tied to the back of the boat making a big circle where the children could swim safely. Then at 5pm I went to the theatre where we performed twice nightly to packed houses for the whole of the season.
This was to me one of the best summer seasons we ever did and the people we met there made it a pleasure. Maybe you saw us there and enjoyed the show … or maybe not!!! If you have any photo memories for that year I would love to see them.
BACK TO ME
I was there at Bournemouth a few times that year to see the boys. My husband and I were courting then and we took a train there each time and stayed in a B & B overnight so we could see the boys shows. And how tremendous they were with star studded support acts. The boys topped the bill every night. They were the days when they had a full orchestra playing in a pit in front of the stage. And we had to stand to attention when the National Anthem was played. I cannot remember if that was before or after the show. Then I spent a fortnight there after the August Bank holiday with a few other people from the fan club. The weather had turned then from the intense hot sunny days to typical cold and wet and windy autumnal conditions. I was totally unprepared and I had to ask my mother to post some of my jumpers to me since there were not too many boutiques around in those days. And finally my husband I went to see the boys in their closing night there and that was altogether a different atmosphere. It marked the definite ending to the summer season with the onset of a cold winter to follow with much snow and thick hard frosts.
I do have a funny memory from my holiday that year spent with the other Bachelors fans. Linda Keane and Kathy Thistlewaite who ran the fan club at the time were two of the ladies who stayed in a little holiday flat with me for the whole fortnight. We had arrived one Saturday and with Linda being the eldest person in our group took charge and got cracking with cooking our first ‘make-do’ holiday meal. It consisted of Cadbury’s Smash potatoes, fish fingers and baked beans. Kathy didn’t want any of that. She had her own meal which was a huge onion to the size of a grapefruit. She covered it with a copious amount of piccalilli and washed it down with beer. I looked at her askance. She asked what I was a looking at. I told her it was her and at what she was eating. Then she said “It is lovely….oh and by the way, when we come out of the theatre tonight can you take a photo of me and Con?”. I nodded very slowly – dreading on Con’s behalf for when that was to happen. Fast forward to that time after the show….Con walked out of the stage door – or shall I say he attempted to walk out as Kathy stood right on the door jamb. Then not only did she want her photo taken with the poor man, she wanted to kiss him too!!! She did at least have the manners to ask him first – but not with a please or a thank you I must add. She breathed her strong onion, piccalilli and beer fumes over Con saying “Can I kiss you and can I have a photo taken with you” I really felt for Con. I would not have wanted to be in Con’s shoes at that moment. Con nodded his head very slowly because The Bachelors have never been known to say no to photographs. Con had a big fixed painful looking smile on his face as though he was trying to steer his way through the horrible odours whafting right into his direction from a very close range. I snapped the photo and I remember seeing it a few weeks later. And years down the line after the sad passing of both Linda and Kathy, I inherited their entire collection of Con and Dec photos and I was dismayed to not find that particular one still in that set. As an extra piece of information, Linda was a John Stokes fan and she left all her photos of John and his family to him. And furthermore, he attended her funeral.
Anyway – that is all for now. Be sure to keep the afternoon of 2nd May free to see the boys in their first monthly Zoom show at 2.15 for 2.30pm BST. Also, try to join early because Dec had problems allowing latecomers in during recent weeks. They are going to work on The Fishing song over the next two weeks as a dedication to my husband Kevin who likes fishing. So He had better watch that with me!!! I am looking forward to seeing it. They are also going to sing “Gonna Build A Mountain” They requested audience participation for us to clap at certain intervals. I just wonder how chaotic that will be if we come in at different times. We will soon see. So until then…cheerio for now