Tag Archives: Home Guard

Never such innocence

Despite all my moaning and mention of boredom I’m having a reasonable time at work and, let’s face it, the money is enjoyable. After 25 years of precarious self-employment I’m just starting to relax with the idea there will always be money at the end of the month.

Here are some of the things I’ve been working on recently.


The first one is a railway whistle – a traditional ACME Thunderer, as you can see, with the “LMS” stamp of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. It came to us with a number of other bits, including a pair of First World War Medals, a membership card for the LDV, which was the forerunner of the Home Guard, and a nasty looking bomb or shell splinter.

The whistle disappeared in the post and we were just getting ready to reimburse the customer when, according to a note he sent today, it appeared. It’s taken a month. Such is life on eBay.

Private Mobbs served in France at the end of the war and hasn’t left much trace of his military activities, but, despite being in a reserved occupation, he was prepared to give up his nights and days off to train with the Home Guard to defend the country all over again.

The next photographs show poppies on coins. The commemoration of the Great War is becoming increasingly mawkish as time goes on, and the recent centenary celebrations have made things worse. Everybody, it now seems, is an expert on the First World War, and everybody has an opinion. I have my own opinions about many of these opinions, but I’ll keep them to myself. All I’ll say is that Blackadder Goes Forth is a comedy, but many people treat it like a documentary.


This is a crown issued by the Falkland Islands. The Falklands are not strangers to war, with a major naval engagement there in 1914, as well as the more modern war.


The second is issued by the UK, the first time (2017) that the UK has issued a commemorative of this type, though other Commonwealth countries have done so.

The story of then poppy as a remembrance of the Great War is an interesting one, and although we tend to think of it as a British thing, we owe it to an American academic called Moina Michael. She took the poppy on board and popularised it, and wrote a poem of her own in response to McRae’s famous In Flanders Fields.

They are poems of their time, and are probably not quite in line with modern taste, so the poem of the day is Larkin again, with MCMXIV.


A day in the sun

As we’re away for a few days I’m converting to travelogue mode for a few days.

It’s been a pleasant day today, with the sun being bright and warm as we drove through Cambridgeshire. By the time we reached Suffolk it was genuine shirt sleeve weather.

We’d started later than I intended but the A1 was relatively uncluttered and we made good progress until we passed Peterborough and took the A14. By the time we reached Huntingdon the traffic was already slow, and things really took  a turn for the worse a short while later, as the queue slowed to a crawl and several white vans flung themselves into my path in order to overtake a funeral cortège.

I hadn’t really planned where to break the journey but decided on Thetford – I haven’t been there since the late 70s/early 80s and thought, after looking it up on the web, that it merited another visit. The earlier visits, to see a friend who moved there for work, seemed to revolve around spartan pubs and grim takeaways.

It has changed over the years,  they are building an ambitious new complex by the river, and the town generally looks brighter. Some of the pubs have been painted and a few new food types have crept in (chilli dogs and Lebanese) – but I managed to avoid the temptation to test any of them out.

It’s a struggle for small towns these days so it’s good to see some optimism and an absence of empty shops.

The charity shops have multiplied over the years, as they have everywhere, and there’s a Polish grocer and a Bureau de Change, which I’ve seen before but not in a town so small. It’s not the first time there’s been an infusion of foreign culture into Thetford. The Vikings gave the town a tough time in the 900s and 10,000 Londoners arrived from the 1950s onwards. I don’t want to offend either Scandinavians or Londoners, but I’m not sure which I’d rather have.

Thetford has three museums, we tried to visit the Dads Army Museum but it isn’t open until next Saturday. Poor planning on my part. Jones’s lorry is exhibited in another museum in town and there is a J. Jones butcher in town – offering Walmington sausages and chilli dogs. What with one thing and another (including looking in charity shops and taking pictures of the Tom Paine statue and St Mary the Less we ran out of time.

In case you were wondering, as I did, why the Tom Paine statue is gilded, it is because Napoleon said that every city in the universe should have a golden statue of him.