Maurice’s Story

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Yesterday was Rememberance Sunday. I was asked to recount the story of one of the four WW1 dead from our tiny village. The service was held in the parish Church in the neighbouring village of Sandon. As I walked up in front of a packed congregation to speak I suddenly realised how important my job was. It was my task to tell the story of villager Maurice Barnes so others could remember him. He wasn’t famous, just a simple farm-worker and ordinary soldier, who died in France in 1917. I post my tribute, not to gain praise, but in the simple wish to tell you his story so that you may remember him too…

Maurice Barnes was the only son of Arthur and Eliza Barnes. Arthur (his father) and George Turner (his grandfather) both worked on my grandfather’s farm.
Maurice was born in 1883 and grew up in a cottage on Hickmans Hill, Clothall. The cottage looked towards Windmill Hill, the last hill before Baldock. This was next to a farm track that is now the A507 road.
When Maurice was seven his mother died, on the 23rd of April, St Georges Day. She is buried in the churchyard in Sandon (where the service took place).
Maurice joined his father and grandfather on the farm in 1897 aged fourteen. He volunteered for the army in September 1914, within a month of the outbreak of war. My grandfather’s wages book records his last working week as the 29th August 1914 when he earned 16 shillings, cutting late barley on Windmill Hill.
Maurice served with D Company the 4th Battalion the Bedfordshire Regiment stationed at Bedford before the company moved to Felixstowe to provide home defence in the Harwich area. After the disaster on the Somme in July 1916, the battalion was sent to the Western Front, landing in France on the 25th July 1916 and eventually on to Arras.
At the start of the Arras offensive, Gavrelle was a fortified village in the third line of the forward German defences of the Hindenburg line. If Gavrelle and the high ground, with it’s shattered windmill to the North of the village could be taken, the British Army would be able to observe the German positions on the Douai plain beyond.
It is truly poignant that a son of Clothall, born and raised within sight of Windmill Hill, who spent his last working days on Windmill Hill, should go on to lose his life in an action where the ultimate aim was to wrest control of La Colline du Moulin a Vent – Windmill Hill.
He died, aged 34, on 23rd April 1917, St Georges Day, on the same day his mother had died when he was seven years old.
Maurice Barnes is one of 35,928 names of the missing that are remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial Pas de Calais.
To this day his remains lay somewhere on that Windmill Hill,

Far from Clothall…
Far from Home.
He is remembered.

Baldock Bard
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
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Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

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Ignoring Old Friends!

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I met some old friends while out shopping the other day. Wherever I looked there they were trying to get me to step back in time and put them in my basket. This was going to be a tough battle of wills…

I met old friends in the shop,
they shouted at me: “Hey, You, Stop!
You’ve not chosen us since May this year,
That’s six whole months it would appear,
You’ve not bought eclairs or cream cakes,
You’ve hurt our feelings for heaven sakes!
You’re quite a bore and have become quite trying,
on the shelf the Wagon Wheels are constantly crying!”
I ignored their cries and persistent protest,
concentrated instead on my next blood test!
Not wishing to risk criticism from the Diabetes Nurse,
who has the ability to make my day worse!

Have a great day and have a cream cake for me! (go on – just the one!)

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

 

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Seasonal Snacks!

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If there is one event that marks the end of the car boot season for me more than Saturday morning lie-ins, no mowing of parking strips and no printing of signs and tickets, it is the in-store appearance of two seasonal favourites. However since being diagnosed with self-inflicted diabetes in May, Twiglets and Cheeselets have been off the menu…

My two old friends are back again,
but they’re not for me, such a pain!
I daren’t even crack open a lid,
I’d be such a fool if I did,
so I look away and walk by,
we’re now divorced ‘Cheeselets Goodbye!’

But I’m not stopping you, go on, you know you can’t resist them!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

 

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The New Glasses!

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For the last two days I’ve been blundering about in the dark as I broke my glasses. Like a utility, glasses are not noticed until they are not there, especially at a busy time of year when clear vision is most important for a farmer. Mrs Bard trooped me off down to our local Alders in Letchworth (friendly people who’ve got me out of trouble on more than one occasion). I judge frames on comfort (as they are beyond my line of vision), Mrs Bard decides whether they ‘suit my face’ (whatever that may mean!) At least this gives the staff in the shop some amusement…

I’d rolled over in bed the other night,
heard a snap and had a fright!
felt around without a laugh,
snapped my glasses clean in half.
The next day a ‘Harry Potter’ mend,
others thought me round the bend,
Off to Alders in a hurry,
“I can’t see it’s quite a worry!”
Faced with a large display of frames,
discussion starts (no calling names!)
A pair is chosen, relief is shed,
(It wasn’t the ones I tried on in red!)

Thanks to all the staff at Alders in Letchworth for your assistance, jollity and humour!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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The Last Day of the Pirates

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In the mid-Sixties, as a small boy, my mother and father would take my brother and I on a bucket-and-spade holiday to Frinton in Essex. The town was famous for it’s ‘nothing-happens-here’ quality. One of the few things I remember from those holidays was the sight of two ships, three miles off the beach, with very tall masts.
It was on this day 50 years ago that the Labour government of the day saw their law banning these ships come it force against the will of millions of listeners. The so-called Pirate Radio stations were outlawed and replaced by a lacklustre state-owned copy in the form of BBC Radio 1.
I have often wondered what those who suffered the seasickness, supply shortages and foulest weather that the North Sea could throw at them think of their legacy – radio that is bland, identikit and soul-less, a far cry from their days on the high seas…

Its left to wonder,
what these pioneers,
think of their legacy,
after fifty years!

Who could ever forget the jingle: Wonderful Radio London!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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The Brutality of Nature!

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Most people regard a Monday as the start of a new week. As Mrs Bard and I run the car boot sale on a Saturday, when we aren’t too busy on the farm, Monday becomes our Sunday! This morning we have been peacefully watching tiny ducklings on the river when the brutality of nature becomes apparent…

A duck with ten ducklings,
floating down the river,
a hungry pike sizes them up,
thinks ‘one would make my dinner!’
Suddenly there’s a splash,
the pike has said ‘come hither!’
now there are just nine of them,
floating down the river.

May your Monday be peaceful and calm and may your predators stay away.

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

 

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Where Are The ‘Effin Keys?

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Yesterday morning everything happened at once and due to a small oversight I went into full panic mode! They say that sometimes you can’t see the wood from the trees, this time I couldn’t see the forest from my drone! However like most panic events, all was well in the end and yet again, I earned myself the title: ‘Wotta Plonker!’…

Tanker came to fill the tanks,
for tractor, house and car,
I couldn’t find any tank keys,
though I searched near and far!

At the same time Johnnie,
was servicing the tractor,
and a chemical delivery,
a complicating factor!

I rushed around the house,
Like a chicken with no head,
swearing about everyone,
and an unknown I called ‘Fred!’

Then searched in my office,
including the untidy floor:
Guess where I found them?
…in the house back door!

Thanks to the driver from Conquest Oil, Johnnie from Oliver Landpower and the Agrovista driver for not panicking and dealing calmly with the situation! This morning peace reigns. No deliveries, no servicing and the yard is quiet…aaaah…and breath!

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Memories in South Road, Baldock

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It is said that many from a certain generation can recall exactly where they were when they heard of President Kennedy’s assassination. I have to admit I can’t. Yesterday evening while driving down South Road in Baldock I remembered only too well the evening of 28th of June 2012…

A simple journey,
to fetch a take-away,
around 7.30,
five years ago today.
I had to stop the car,
through tears I could not see,
a devastating phone call,
in South Road came to me.

Marsya was a journalist,
mother and true friend,
supporter and encourager,
enjoyed her life no end.
Everyone still misses you,
(soppy verse you despised!)
you enjoyed shocking with vernacular,
damn these tearful eyes!
Remembering Marsya and her much-loved family with love

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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Lucky Chip!

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Chip ‘resting his eyes’ by the Aga!

In early December 2002 we had a dog run over on the main road. Our other dog was bereft and unconsolable. So we went to a rescue centre to look for a companion for her. There was one particular dog, a Jack Russell Terrier called Chip who had been un-homed for over a year because he had problems. Apparently he didn’t like children, other dogs or cats and wasn’t particularly fond of humans either! He had a doggie-psychiatrists report to back this up that stretched to many pages. However, despite his documented problems, there was something appealing about him and we asked if we could take him home. The supervisor advised us that we’d have to wait until we’d had passed a suitability visit before we could adopt him. When she came out to see us and saw the farm, woodland, large fenced-in garden and met the family, she simply had this to say: “Lucky Chip!”
For the next fifteen  years he was very much part of our family. The report had been utter tripe: he loved other dogs, adored children, ignored cats and gave nothing but love to all humans! In short, apart from the ability to constantly moult his coat, leaving all surfaces with a constant reminder of him, he was the perfect dog.
On Friday, in his eighteenth year, when he had finally stopped eating, had trouble drinking and his back legs were on the verge of giving up, we took him on his final journey to the vet. Amidst flowing tears, we said our goodbyes and then laid him to rest in a sunny spot of the garden that he loved so much. I only hope we gave him as much as he gave to our family and friends, both human and canine.
He was ‘Lucky Chip’ in so many ways.

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

 

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Not In Our Branch

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In our local Lloyds Bank branch there is a new sign by the cashiers warning that abusive behaviour by customers will not be tolerated. I never thought I’d see such a sign in such a friendly small branch. While visiting yesterday I had an idea…

The ladies who sit behind the counter
have had a very bad encounter,
someone came in the other day,
behaving in an abusive way.

I have an idea for abusive haters,
hidden trap door with alligators!
If they attempt to scream and shout
It’d give them something to complain about!

In a couple of months the bank will close,
what we’ll do then heaven knows.
As the staff disperse to branches new
please remember the majority not the few.

Dedicated to all those at Lloyds Bank, Baldock. Thank you for being so friendly and charming over all the years – we’ll miss you.

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 25 YEARS!
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD

2017 Season
EVERY SATURDAY MORNING!
until mid-October
With more FREE parking and a field full of bargains!
www.u-boot.co.uk

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