PeopleNotable characters I can remember
Can you remember or you might like to know....
A list of memories of people (ordinary & extraordinary), places and events
Once again I would very much appreciate your tales, anecdotes for future inclusion.
This is only the start, I need input from you all to contribute to this, .......please!
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Norman Gray - Hogg's paper shop
Jack Kemp - Hogg's paper shop
Sid (?) Pettit - Hogg's paper shop
Bill Ashby - Hogg's paper shop
Bill (?) Jaggard - Cambridge Evening News paper seller
Tramp with a pekingnese dog up his sleeve
Cigarette card of the man himself!
Kindly supplied by Rodney Vincent of the Newmarket Local History Society
What seems like several hundred years ago I was getting my haircut at Mr Fred
Ager's barber shop in Albion Street. I guess I was about 9 and had been taken
there by my Dad on a raceday Saturday morning.
The shop was wooden panelled and had curious round brushes suspended from the ceiling above the barbers chairs on pulleys which meant they could be lowered and spun, I never did find out what they were used for. At that time I imagined they were some strange contraption for brushing peoples' hair. They were turned deeply polished rich brown wood and had dark stiff bristles that always looked brand new (maybe they had never been used).
There I sat beneath this strange machinery not daring to ask whilst Mr Ager was cutting my hair with his skillful but shaky hands, when the door burst open, the doorway filled with this huge befeathered form and this wonderful deep booming voice exclaiming "I GOTTA HORSE"
Stood in the doorway was this huge, to me anyhow, black African dressed in a bright tribal costume complete with feathered head dress
This was my first encounter with Prince Ras Monolulu, the tipster.
In a kindly way he named me something associated with my bright red hair and freckles but I cant remember what, but he did say it was lucky to see someone with red hair and he reckoned he was going to have a good day because of that. I remember occasionally seeing him in the street in the following years and he always said hello and called me that name. I'm not sure if I imagined this next bit but I think he gave me a small multi-cloured ceramic bead, my memory was stirred when sorting some of my mothers things recently and came across this bead.
Did he actually wear tribal costume or was it just the head dress?
Does anyone know anything more about him?
Since uploading this account someone has kindly sent me a recording of Prince Monolulu.
Please click on link Prince Monolulu recording if you would like to hear/download it.
And does anyone know what those brushes were for in Mr Ager's barber shop or did I imagine them?
Tiny was as his nickname suggested a small man and had worked in racing for all
I got to talk to him and almost got to know him whilst working behind the bar of the Palomino in the early '70s when Peter and Dot Cheeseman were landlord and landlady.
I used to do the early shift between 6.00pm and 7.30pm on Saturday evenings, have a break then come back for the madness of the latter part of the evening, About 6.15 was the time Tiny would come in. To me he seemed ancient, he always wore a colour and tie and an old battered but much loved trilby which he never took off except when it was extremely hot during the summer and that was to only wipe his brow with his handkerchief. First impressions were that he was a miserable old sod and many people did treat him that way. But as you became aquainted with his ways and manner underneath it all there was a sad lonely man (I think he had been married but had lost his wife) who had a sharp and wicked sense of humour in his own quiet way. Some of the quiet asides he made to me about some of the young brash know-it-all stablelads were very witty, cutting and amusing.
He used to drink a pint of Tolly Cobbold bitter which in those days was pumped up albeit by electric pump from the cellar without added gas or top pressure, it was in fact a real ale. When poured it used to produce a head that receded to a few bubbles on the surface not thick and creamy like the fizzed up 'smooth' tasteless stuff of the fashionable beers at the moment. However Tiny's beer was always flat and absolutely dead, no bubbles, nothing, I noticed this and on several occasions asked him if it was OK. The answer was always the same "That's fine boy, that's the way I like it".
One particular Saturday I noticed something about the size of a pea lying in the bottom of his freshly pulled pint, thinking it was a piece of hop or some finings which being a live beer did sometimes occur I offered to change it.
"That's fine boy leave it alone it'll be fine in a moment, its my beer bought and paid for" was his terse response.
"But there's a big lump of something floating in the bottom" I said.
"Its OK, leave me alone, haven't you got work to do" retorted Tiny.
Fair enough thought I and got on with serving.
About half an hour later I was washing glasses at the end of the bar near to Tiny who was just finishing his beer, he nodded to me to come close and whispered in his gravely voice
"Sorry to snap at you son, I put that stuff in me beer, I always do"
"What is it I asked suspiciously"
"Cheddar cheese, to make the beer go flat else it gives me jip"
"What do you do when you finish a pint?" I asked.
"Eat it, what else" he replied.
Then he said something quite sad.
"I suppose you won't serve me anymore, you must think I'm barmy"
This was from a man countless years my senior and infinitely wiser.
I said "If it works for you, you carry on"
"Good on yer boy" and he smiled, which was an unusual sight
In the following months when possible I would pour Tiny's beer straight from the barrel down in the cellar. I'll never forget the look of enjoyment on his face as he savoured the first mouthful and the mischievous wink he gave me as he dropped the cheese in before the second.
Duff, was a character to say the least!
I knew him in the late sixties early 70's from my time working at the Palomino. When I say I knew him, I knew who he was and to say hello to and join in the occasional conversation with. He worked or had worked in racing, I think, although I never actually knew for certain. He was an interesting chap who always, and I mean always had an opinion about anything to do with the racing industry, especially what horse was going to win and often subsequently why it didn't. The jockeys were usually the main target of his criticism with the comment
"He couldn't ride my bike"
more than often used to describe their ability of horsemanship.
He had been a prisoner of the Japanese during the 1939-45 war and had been badly treated. Whilst a prisoner he had been attached to a pole with wire twisted around his thumbs, as a result he had lost both thumbs. War or Japan were not subjects to talk about in his company.
Enough of these gruesome tales I hear you say, there is a reason however....
Duff used to frequent the Conservative Social Club and enjoy the occasional game of snooker, usually with a small wager riding on the game. Regardless of being thumbless, he was very good, but on the few occasions I saw him lose, his good humoured reaction was always the same. He would slam the cue down, wave his hands in the air and shout
"If I only had these"
Back to the "He couldn't ride my bike" phrase. A favourite wind up response to this was "Oh yeah, you
could do better?"
This always brought the same loud raucous laughing response.......
You've guessed it....
"IF ONLY I HAD THESE!"
George Lomas, another person I got to know whilst working at the Palomino. Another interesting
chap. Underneath the rough diamond like facade there was a very intelligent and deep thinking
man. I had many an interesting and extremely varied conversation with him. He was a great
greyhound man, he always had and raced them with the help of his long time partner Laura a German lady
who was also quite a character, they both loved their dogs. But on occasion George could get a bit nasty
and argumentitive with little or no warning and had to be told to calm down often by me, which he did.
The next day he would always come in and apologise first and then ask for a pint! He was a wizard at
playing chess and would often play Peter and Doff's young son in a coaching role. I played him several
times during quiet spells and he would always absolutely thrash me, with a great big grin on his face.
Norman Gray was the manager of Hogg's paper on the corner of St Mary's Square and Mill Hill when I started my first
paper round in November 1962. He reminded me of Ronald Shiner the comedy actor (remember him?) always seemed to be
zipping about and could be very loud on occasions. However having said that he was very understanding and thoughtful
especially towards new and usually very nervous recruits to his band of deliverers embarking on their first paid work.
I started towards the end of November 1962 little did I know what a winter lay ahead, I plan to add more about this on my Memories page.
I first met Jack Kemp on the first day of my first paper round job at Hogg's paper shop on the corner of what was the wonderful St Mary's Square, sadly now a shadow of its former self. He was one of the men who helped sort out all the papers for the different rounds and other shops. At that time Hogg's was the paper hub of Newmarket, all the papers for the area were delivered to the shop initially by van from Newmarket station and later by van from Cambridge, more about this on my Memories page. Jack's day job was at the hospital on Exning Road in the maintainance workshop, I seem to remember he was a plumber by trade but turned his hand to most jobs around the hospital apart from surgery. At the paper shop he alway had a very sharp knife for cutting the string that bound the bundles of still warm newspapers, I can still remember the lovely smell of freshly cut bundles of papers. One thing that always fascinated me was how Jack was able to tie a sorted bundle of papers for collection, even though he showed me the knot he used countless times I could never repeat it as effectively as he. He always wore workmen's dungarees and a flat cap and a shirt and tie of course.
Sid was another of the helpers at Hogg's paper shop. He was always cheerful and had a story to tell.
I didn't really know Bill but can remember being amazed at just how many newspapers he could carry on his trade bike. The bike had a small front wheel with a great big tubular steel basket for carrying a box, above the rear wheel was a platform that held another great big box, in addition he would have a newspaper bag around his neck also packed full of papers. He looked a bit like Open All Hours Granville on his trade bike. Bill would then bike to Exning with this load to do his round and then onto Burwell to finish, this was every day including Sundays! He would do this as soon as the papers arrived, often around 6am, before us boys were officially allowed to start which was 7am.
I suppose Bill had the franchise for the delivery of the Cambridge Evening News when I had an evening round as well as the morning one. I'm sorry to say but he also struck me as being not very happy and not particularly friendly towards his small band of deliverers and was for the most part miserable and snappy. I didn't keep my evening round very long, even at that young age I thought I don't need this, life is too short and left, the pay was lousey as well!
Anyone remember the tramp that used to be about Newmarket who had a pekingnese dog that he often used to keep in the sleeve of his huge voluminous and filthy overcoat? I can clearly remember seeing him in Market Street, Newmarket, and hearing this dog yapping wondering where it was and then spotting this dog's head sticking out of one of the sleeves. It was quite surreally bizarre seeing this huge scruffy old man with with such a tiny and somewhat exotic dog.