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Author Topic: A Life of Chaos  (Read 57456 times)

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Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #156 on: February 10, 2015, 17:53:08 »
My point was: When did over 50,60,70 and even 80 cease to become Old? To look as haggard as my Grandma or either of my Grand Fathers you have to be in your 90's now. They were all gone by 75 (age not year). Yet The Oracle, who is only one generation along, is in his 80's and fighting fit. When did we start to age slower, maintain our faculties (some exceptions I am well aware of) and just behave younger. When I was a kid the three asylumns in the area were full of senile dementia patients, my Grandma succumbed and ended her days in there. However the only one left is a shadow of itself with very few elderly patients in there at all.

S4
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Offline Signals99

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #155 on: February 10, 2015, 14:54:23 »
Ok sentinel S4, you seem to have had a fair old life experience, love to hear it and some more please.
I'm 73 and I absolutly love it, had some hard times,shed a few tears, seen some sights I would rather forget.
Married twice, divorced twice, lived with a partner for twenty years, only to be given twenty one days notice to quit our home the day I retired, most of my savings went with her (never have a joint bank acct) would I change it if I could, you BET.

Offline peterchall

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #154 on: February 09, 2015, 17:09:20 »
An article in today’s Telegraph says that 60 can no longer be considered ‘old’ and I’m sure there’s still lots in the ‘young dog’ yet. All the while you can post to KHF you are useful!.

Congratulations on being an expectant grand-dad. As per the words on one of my fridge magnets  - “If I had known grand-children were so much fun, I’d have had them first”.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #153 on: February 09, 2015, 13:51:12 »
I was going to write a little more about the cars in my life. However as I have had an average of 3.5 a year since I passed my test this would be an epic along the lines of War and Peace (and a good deal less interesting) A few were noteworthy, my first BMW 325i, the short wheel based Landrover, my beloved BMW 740i. Some would now be called 'Classics', the Mk II Capri, the three Mk III Cortina's, the SII LWB Landrover, the 1936 Lanchester Ten (pre-selector gearbox), the Daimler Century Conquest (sleeve valve engine and ooh so quiet (Dad had one when I was born and I wanted to know what the fuss was about)), come to think about it the rash of rear engined Skoda's that I had in the early 1990's are now 'Classics' (what the heck is going on there?).

Instead I am going to witter on about age. This is a sore subject for some (me included) but I have never been afraid of controversy. As most of you realise I have just turned 50 and am fed up with being told that I am 'middle aged'. According to Biblical sources mans lot is 'three score and ten'. That means 70 according to my fingers and toes, I got 20 left.... When I was 35 THEN I was middle aged, not now though I'm old. Too young to retire but too old to be useful. However am I? No really am I too old to be of use? When I left school I knew nothing, not a bad education but a certain unwillingness to follow the code of learning required (I taught myself as the teachers were rubbish). Within a year I was confident enough to cut hair and charge money for doing so (around this time in the 80's I am sure I was a pain in John Walker's rear end, forever asking damn fool questions about music and never buying a thing), thing was £21 a week didn't go very far. Now though I know a lot, does that make me more useful? Anyway back to the point. I have a couple of pics of my Grandparents, age when pics taken mid to late 60's, and they look really old. I saw my Dad a couple of years ago on his 80 th Birthday and he looked younger than my Grand parents.

I am well aware that health care has changed, our diets have changed and that we are due to live longer but as I turn 50 I still feel 35, I guess then at least mentally I am very much still 'Middle Aged'. I have the first Grandchild on His way within the next week or so, the Daughter-in-Law did as I asked and waited until the Birthday had passed (Bless Her), so that means that I can wind the clock back even further. I really feel that it is still the late 80's early 90's and someone will pop up on the News at 10 and say the last 25 years did not happen. For me that would be great as I would still be working on the Romney, the Kids would still be young and there are a few mistakes that I could correct...


S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline JohnWalker

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #152 on: February 24, 2014, 13:06:14 »
Keep 'em' coming S4.  Like you I've had many cars over the years.  I only ever 'tuned' one vehicle and that was my Ford Anglia van.  I think the engine was 1200cc.  I had the head skimmed, opened out and polished the ports.  Fitted a Piper high lift camshaft and then fitted a carb from a Jaguar onto a custom made manifold.  I didn't really know what I was doing but it certainly had a good turn of speed.  Best thing was the sound of the intake as no filter fitted - lovely sound - better than any exhaust sounds to me.  JW

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #151 on: February 24, 2014, 11:54:50 »
First; good Policing I think as common sense was used.

Second; no there were no 'special' versions of the Lada, Yugo or Skoda.

However there were a lot of aftermarket/specialist Rally Sport bolt on parts available. In my case it was to rip out a dead 1.4 Ltr and drop in a 2 Ltr Twin Cam. If I remember the speedo went to a very optimistic 130 mph mine would frequently blast right past that and keep on going......... I wish I had done the brakes up at the same time but I was in a hurry for some wheels.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline peterchall

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #150 on: February 24, 2014, 11:38:39 »
I was once side-swiped by a car as it overtook me in Strood High Street and, having  done so, it was off like a scalded cat. I was astonished to see that it was a LADA RIVA. I managed to keep pace with it for long enough to note its Reg Number and went into the cop shop at Rochester because I thought it was being driven by someone over the limit and should be off the road ASAP.

A couple of days later I had an example of your experience of ‘personal policing’ when a copper rang me to say that he’d spoken to the driver concerned and asked if I wanted him prosecuted for failing to stop, or would I be happy if he paid the cost of my repairs? Since the latter avoided the hastle of insurance claims, court appearance etc, that’s what I chose. Morally wrong, or good policing?

I had another experience of underestimating a supposedly ‘rubbish’ car on approaching the traffic lights – at red - at the bottom of Star Hill and noticed that the car ahead was either a Lada Riva or a Yugo Zastava – I can’t remember which. “Aha”, thought I, “no problem in beating that up the hill and getting in front before it becomes single lane” so pulled into the right-hand lane alongside – to add to my confidence I noticed that it was driven by an elderly lady and I was in a Vauxhall Nova Antibes. When the lights changed I hadn’t got a chance and had to concede defeat when the 2 lanes converged! After following it as far as Luton Garage, then a Lada or Yugo dealer, I realised that it was the firm’s demonstrator. Was there a souped up version of either of those cars?
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline chasg

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #149 on: February 24, 2014, 05:26:45 »
I think most of us can identify with an awful lot of that, S4. Yet, keep them coming, please...  :)

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #148 on: February 24, 2014, 03:33:37 »
Here is a bit about some of the cars I have owned. If you enjoy I will do some more, I have had more than my fair share.

Cars of my Life.

Due to several requests I guess that I have to continue with this series for at least one more of these missives. I really can’t remember all of the cars I have owned; there really have been that many. That sounds terrible I know but I like cars, I like driving them, I like different, I like quality, I like cheap, I like toys in my cars. I have owned some really basic cars that many people would laugh at (one I wish I still had), I have had top of the range full on luxury cars but the common trait is that most of them have been old and cheap a good few were barely legal (one certainly was not even that), with a few of them it is difficult to understand why I had even thought about buying them in the first place. Some I regret selling whilst others I was only too happy to see the back of. However I, like many these days, struggle to understand how a MkIV Ford Cortina could be thought of as a classic car yet there is one doing the rounds at transport shows that was I only too happy to sell.

It has to start somewhere so the first is always a good start. She (always a ‘she’) was a Citroen 2CV6 Dyane, the high powered version! No really, it had a high compression engine that put out a few more Pit Ponies than the standard 2CV. I started driving this beast well before I got my full licence; it was Dads car before he got a Series III Short Wheel Base Land Rover. One of the many minor problems was a certain lack of will to start in the cold and damp. We initially used a can of Duck Oil to waterproof the very basic electrics, that worked well enough for a week or so until it snowed then nothing wanted to function under the bonnet. There was an ace in the hole though in the shape of the wheel brace. I can hear the questions from here. The fact is the wheel brace doubled as the STARTING HANDLE! How many cars in the 1980’s had the luxury of a piece of equipment that was so useful? Apart from the Citroens’ air cooled cars that is. Generally Dad would go out to the car at about 0710hrs and wind the battery flat he would then walk the half mile up the Hospital Drive to work. I would go out at 0730hrs put the handle in, lift the bonnet, place one hand on the carburettor, find the compression stroke and flip the handle. Nine times out of ten I was rewarded with the chugging from the engine as it fought its lumpy way into life. Some days though it might take three or four tries, the net result of that would be some nice bruises on the palm of my hand, and yes I knew enough to keep my thumbs out of the way in-case she spat back. I have just realised that back then I did most of my driving in the snow, sometime before I was even legal, however that little car was brilliant in the white stuff. She had narrow tyres and a flat floor pan which was a great combination apart from when Dad ran into a drift and she tobogganed into a wall. He managed to crumple the nearside front wing and break one of the headlight bezels. Shortly afterwards I persuaded him to let me have a go at sorting the damage out. That was when I taught myself about panel beating and saved Dad his, not insubstantial, no claims bonus. A week later he bought the Land Rover and the 2CV became mine. All I needed was a licence.

Once I was legal there was no stopping me. I passed my test first time after three official lessons in a Mk III Ford Escort (it was brand new at the time) but I learned to drive in a 160,000 mile 2CV, it could reach 65mph going downhill and by that I mean off of Beachy Head taking the short route to the lighthouse at the bottom. It was happy when doing the 50mph mark and the really great thing was that if you had the bottle she would corner very well at that speed. Yes I know these have that wonderful long travel suspension and heel right over but they are so stable because the body is between the wheels, most cars have the wheels under the body but with these the wheels are outside. Citroen in their wisdom decided that if you could roll one of these over they would give you a brand new one. We tried. Oh how we tried to roll her over but it was never going to happen, even with the doors off and driving in the tightest circles we could and someone hanging on the outside she would not even lift a wheel. In the summer with the roof rolled back it was tremendous fun and the Boss (still Girlfriend then) loved that car. I could fit her bicycle in the back and run her home. The roof being cloth was fine in good weather but leaked like a sieve when it rained, except for the hole I made when I stuck the brake handle of the Bosses bike through it. That year the Boss passed her test and bough a Mini 1100 Special, more on that a little later. That following winter was another bad one, the Isle of Grain was cut off for a while and Canterbury was awful to get around. Bearing in mind the starting problems and living up at The Old Park Farm House, behind Howe barracks in Canterbury, I decided that the best thing was to leave her running all night. Every night I would turn the idle down on the carb and she would just quietly thump away all night. One morning I had a call from my Boss man who lived out at Harbledown and owned a then new Suzuki SJ410, a baby four wheel drive that was prone to rolling over. This was supposed to be the replacement for the aspiring Yuppie/Land Rover owner, to be honest they would at the time have made a good spare wheel for a Landy, they were ‘the’ car to have. The bad news was that it could not get up the hill from his house to the main road. Along plods S4 in the 2CV and picks him up from his front door and drives back up the hill and into Canterbury. I did all kinds of silly things in that car, I even drove to Sandwich one night with the entire Bar Billiards team (6 members) and the Boss in it (she did thump a bit over the pot holes). However she was wearing out and the writing was on the wall especially when the gearbox developed an annoying fault. This would manifest itself exactly when you least needed it. You would pull away in 1st and go for a change only to find that you were stuck in 1st. Really annoying with a car that would do all of 7mph in 1st. The cure was to undo all the bolts on the top of the gearbox by ½ inch lift the top and just put it back down then tighten the bolts up. She would then be good for another week or so. Many years later I had another almost identical 2CV Dyane that would do the self-same thing every week or two.

By now I had been seduced by the Mini and the wonderful performance that it put out. The 2CV had a 602 cc flat twin whilst the Mini had that awesome A series engine, however it was not the car but the power and I wanted a bigger car (for courting purposes). To that end I sold the 2CV and bought another Citroen; the magnificent and underrated GS. This had it all, electric windows, a heater that worked a sun roof, an 1100 cc four pot engine and that wonderful hydraulic suspension. It was a revelation with comfortable seats (velour and RECLINING) and a top speed of three figures. I blew the engine up within a week. That was down to having an oil line break and the entire sump being dumped along Stone Street. This is where my luck works as one of my clients, I was a hairdresser at the time, had a rotten GS 1300 Estate for sale very cheap. I bought it and one Sunday I changed the engine and gearbox which was a very easy job with these. For this not only did I gain a bigger engine but a FIVE SPEED gearbox. I had arrived, or so I thought. At the time I was renting a room at my mate Drew’s’ house in Aylesham, he was a huge help in teaching me the basics and not so basics of keeping a banger running. I even had a new front wing fitted on this car thanks to the USAF. It happened thanks to a couple of A-10 Warthog Ground Attack aircraft flying very low over Adisham Downs and popping up over the ridge in front of me. Not being that experienced I stuffed the car in the bank and crumpled the nearside front wing. When I got home Drew phoned Manston (then still in the hands of the USAF) and had a pop at someone about low level flying. The next thing was a single car transporter turned up with a representative from the base and took my car away for repairs. A couple of days later a huge American monster turned up (a Ford Crown Victoria I later learned) and took me down to Manston where the two pilots involved apologised and gave me my car back (complete with a full tank of fuel and several cartons of Marlboro fags in the boot) repaired. They had also sorted out a few other things that were becoming a problem like the blowing exhaust and the suspension spheres (the waffy Citroen suspension again). I learned a few years later that she had been taken into the Citroen dealer who was told to ‘make it right’ by the base CO and boy did they make it right it was like driving a new car.

“Hey S4! You want to do a deal with that GS of yours?”

“Depends on what you are offering”.

“Well you know I have the CX (the big Citroen car of the time). Well my misses hates driving it and wants something smaller”.

“I like my GS, you know it had a shed load done to it three months back”.

“Yes S4 I know and that is why I’m asking”.

“So what’s the deal?”

“Straight swap”.

“?????”

“I mean it S4. We do a straight swap your GS for my CX, no strings and no money”.

“Done!” (S4 you had been, boy you had been).

Thus I became the proud owner of a vast super tanker on wheels. The speedo and rev counter were vertical barrels in some liquid that never seemed to keep up with neither engine nor wheels. This though was full blown luxury motoring it was fully loaded and even the sunroof was powered. She had the 2.2 Lt engine that just seemed to pull like a train into the obscene speed range and drink fuel like it was going out of fashion, in those far off days £10 would keep her going all week if I was sensible (a 21year old with a 2.2 lump up front and a girlfriend, purlease) or £20 if I was not. I only had her a few months but forever fell in love with big and comfortable cars.
 
S4, “Good afternoon Sir, how would you like your hair done today?”

Customer, “The normal S4, nothing special”.

S4, “No problem”.
 
Cust, “Sorry S4 but you do have a problem”.

S4, “Enlighten me”.

Cust, “Well you know what I do for a living? I know you do so don’t look blank”. (He was a ‘Black Rat’ one of the sadly missed Traffic Officers who drove the big Rover SD1 jam sandwiches).

S4, “Yes”.

Cust, “Well I followed you the other evening from Whitfield to Barham lights”.

S4, “Didn’t see you as I was watching what I was doing”.

Cust, “I should *****y well hope so because you were doing 145mph at one point and my Rover was struggling to catch you!”

S4, “Okay, ‘m sorry. What do we do now?”

Cust, “1st this trim is free and so is the next and you slow down because next time I will do you”.

S4 (with sweat pouring off him), “Thank you very much Sir. I will slow down a bit”. (The slowdown lasted all of a week).

I sold her shortly after to finance my move to the Isle of Man, I made enough to keep the shop going for a couple of months thanks to that car. However that was an example of proper Police work………

I did not have many vehicles on the Island, four to be exact. The first was a Lada Riva estate, it cost £35 from the Lada dealer and was an end of life trade in. It was shot and on a good day would do all of 45mph on the flat. Finally the engine wore out in a terminal way (a con rod came through the crank case. So I stored it at Dads house. That was followed by a huge Mercedes 250CE (1968 pillar less Coupe) she was brilliant. She was BIG, thirsty, comfortable and quite fast when she was pushed hard. I nearly got into trouble with the Law (again) in a town called Port Erin. I had been to see a man about a car (a Fiat 132 2 Ltr twin cam) because I knew the Merc was running on borrowed time. As I left Port Erin I took the standard Kent attitude towards a roundabout. I blitzed round it like it was not there. The other side stood a man of the Law in the road with a hand in the air indicating that he wished me to stop. I did as requested, I’m a good boy remember.

“Good afternoon Sir”.

“Afternoon Officer, nice day”.

“Yes Sir it is. Now then who do you think you are?”

“Not good enough to be you Officer and I’m not Ayrton Senna either”.

“Fine so we have established that you are not a known racing driver. So why so fast through here?”

S4 realising that this might go a bit bad decides to be a bit less cheeky.

“Sorry Officer but I was not really thinking as I have just had a look at a replacement for this and was heading home to tell the wife about it”.

“You’re not from the Island are you?”

“No Officer I’m a ‘come over’ like you”. Special Constable N. Mansell laughed at that and S4 knew he was in the clear.

“Right then young man if I was you I would take it a little easier and keep it to a race track in the future”.

“Yes Officer I will. May I shake your hand please?”

“Not another *****y fan are you?”

“Yes Sir, I cried when your tyre let go in Adelaide”.

With that I shook the hand of the F1 World Champion and a real Gentleman as well. I met him a few other times and he really is a genuinely ‘nice’ bloke. Now what actually backfired was the point that there are two race tracks on the IoM. One is the TT Circuit which is three main roads and the second is the Southern Hundred Circuit which is four short sections of four main roads. I had just been told to ‘keep it on a race track’ by a copper no less, awesome! I must also point out that on the IoM the speed derestriction (white sign with the black diagonal bar (bar sinister?)) really means that. There is no upper limit, there are fewer accidents than you might think, and I had been given the green light not only by the police but by a World Champion racing driver to go as fast as I could! They were Happy Days. I did buy the Fiat and laid the Merc up at Dad’s (it was beginning to look like a scrap yard more than a Vicarage by then) and promptly came back to Kent in it. It happened that the Bosses Grand Mother died suddenly and she wanted to come back for the funeral. The problem was that she was quite pregnant at the time and Manx Airways (long gone) would not allow her to fly so I had to drive. I swear that we stopped in every damn service station between Heysham (Lancashire) and Canterbury, both ways. To top it all the Fiat fell apart on me the day after we got back to the IoM. The engine and gearbox ended up in the Lada Riva, I had to shorten the prop shaft and make the hole for the gear leaver a little larger but it did fit, which kept me fairly (VERY) mobile with probably the fastest Lada on the IoM.

Phone rings:

“Hello”.

“Are you S4?”

“Yes mate”.

“I’m interested in your Mercedes”.

“Make me an offer”.

“£1,000”.

“When do you want to do the paper work?”

“Saturday would be best as I’m not on the Island at the moment”.

“Okay give me a shout and I will meet you out there”.

“Bye”.

“Bye”.

Saturday comes with beautiful bright sunshine and a touch of frost in the shade. The Merc had not run for four months did me proud and started on the key and sat there chuffing quietly like those big six cylinder engines do. The Gent turned up with a fairly new Mercedes G Wagen pulling a trailer. Gave me the cash and went to winch it up onto the trailer. He was astounded when I started her up and offered me more cash. I declined as the deal was done and I had just had a headache removed from Dads drive, plus the Boss was not feeling too good (the pregnancy was a bit tough on her). We then got talking and he promised me a good look over her when she had been rebuilt. I saw that car six months later and found out the whole story. It turns out the gent was an instructor at Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart and had the car rebuilt by the apprentices to as new condition. It certainly did not look like the wreck that I sold him.

Finally just before Christmas the Lada/Fiat expired and went to the crusher. It was lethal with that magnificent engine and Lada drum brakes, wheels and tyres. It would regularly go off the clock on the Mountain section of the TT circuit, it would lay rubber down in the dry if I was not gentle when pulling away. Anyway just after Christmas the Boss came back to Kent leaving me on the Island for a while.
Eventually I had the money to get another car and was spoilt for choice as I had all of £75 to my name. I really wanted a Triumph 2500 estate but as it was advertised for £100 I decided to go for the Ford Mk I Escort 1300 Auto instead. Sadly I later found out that the seller would have let me have the Triumph for the £75…. Sometimes you really loose….. I nursed it back to the Vicarage, I was living there at the time, in a cloud of white oil smoke not even getting it above 30mph. At home I dipped the oil and found that it was almost to the top of the dip-stick tube. I drained 2 gallons of oil out of that engine, then put 1 gallon back in and found that I had a halfway decent car. After a quick tinker with the engine I went for a short run and realised that beneath the rough exterior there beat the heart of a kitten (that was a lot of car for that engine on an auto). It was adequate, no more and no less, to get me and a lot of our gear back to Kent. That little  beast was to last eight months before I holed a piston when coming past Bridge one night on the way home from Farthingloe Village. I scrapped it at Lings on the Sturry Road, I hang my head in shame for that one, but I did get my £75 back!

If you enjoyed that then I can do more...........

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline Lyn L

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #147 on: February 20, 2014, 10:27:01 »
And so say ALL  of us  :)
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

Offline busyglen

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #146 on: February 20, 2014, 10:25:24 »
Due to the vast amount of psychological arm twisting, those half-nelsons hurt, there is an installment being written.

S4 (cowed, bowed but as yet undefeated thanks to my Friends).
Well done!  Looking forward to it.  :)
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #145 on: February 20, 2014, 10:14:01 »
Due to the vast amount of psychological arm twisting, those half-nelsons hurt, there is an installment being written.

S4 (cowed, bowed but as yet undefeated thanks to my Friends).
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline JohnWalker

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #144 on: February 20, 2014, 10:06:12 »
Stick with it S4 - I know it must be so frustrating for you but at least you are putting your time to good use.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your story.  You've certainly had a more adventurous time than I have so it's really interesting to hear of your exploits.  I'm sure there's a lot more to come.  It will also be something for your descendants to look back on in the far away future.  I wish my parents had written more of their story down.  I know so little of their early years.  What toys did they have.  What were their Christmas's like.  Did they have holidays.  What places and relations did they visit.  My mother grew up on air force bases around the country including Duxford and Manston through the war years.  I know a bit more about my father as I did finally persuade him to write his story after Mum passed away.  There was little about his early years in Bolton but mainly his days in the war, particularly training as a Para and his night time drop with his Vickers Machine Gun to help hold the Pegasus bridge until reinforcements arrived.  And then the various skirmishes that followed as they moved further into France and the battle of Ranville where many of his battalion were lost around him.

So - what I am saying is that your story will be cherished in later years so please keep at it.

Best wishes
JW

John38

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #143 on: February 20, 2014, 09:51:12 »
In a couple of months you will be looking back to the time when you HAD an injured ankle, S4. Be patient, you've come a long way so far, not far to go now.

Offline Lyn L

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Re: A Life of Chaos
« Reply #142 on: February 19, 2014, 17:46:33 »
With your guts and determination it won't be long either  :) the bathroom trip alone  means your'e on the way  ( but do listen to the nurse  sometimes  :) ) Best of luck with the appointment very soon and also with your endeavours for the new venture.
You may have writers block but keep us updated about the ankle .
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

 

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