This poem was published in the School magazine, the Nottinghamian in July 1939. It was written by Alan Douglas Fluder Howard, the son of a school teacher. Alan was born on December 1st 1922 and the family all lived at 5 Alpha Terrace, between North Sherwood Street and Addison Street, fairly close to the High School. Alan entered the High School on September 2oth 1934, as Boy No 5845 and he studied there until the end of the School Year in 1941 when he left to go to Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge with an Open Exhibition of £40 per annum for Classics and a City of Nottingham Scholarship of £80 per annum. Here’s Gonville & Caius College, or at least, a picture of the entrance to Staircase K:
Alan then seems to have become an illustrator of children’s books such as, for example, “The Pimpernel and the Poodle” and “Limping Ginger of London Town” both of which are still on sale, intermittently, on the internet.
Alan died on Monday April 14, 2008 at the Mount Nursing Home in Shrewsbury. He was the much loved and loving husband of Margaret, the father of Shelagh and Jennifer, the grandfather of Laura, Joanna, Harry, Katy and Zachary and the brother of Marian.
Unlike many Cambridge men of his era, Howard did serve in the war. On October 1st 1945, he received an Emergency Commission to promote him from the ranks of the ordinary soldiers to become a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Signals.
This poem is one of the very best you’ll find in the school magazine. It is set in Blackpool in the very last summer before the war began on September 3rd 1939.
Blackpool was, and still is, England’s Holiday Capital. Its most famous building is Blackpool Tower, jealously copied by the jealous Parisian architects within a couple of years of its completion. There are three piers, North, Central and South, there is a huge Pleasure Beach and Blackpool has literally thousands of things to do. And it also has its problems, as this poem will gradually reveal to you……..
I like to be at the seaside, the seaside, the seaside,
The jolly, jolly seaside, is just the place for me.
I love the bracing sea-breeze, the sea-breeze, the sea-breeze,
The sewage-fish-and-chips breeze,
Down by the sea.
Oh, how delightful, beautiful, adorable,
Just to spend a day down on the strand !
Gramophones, deck-chairs, chattering lunatics,
And sand sand sand jellyfish sand.
How nice to have a picnic,
All on the seashore,
Down by the briny.
Oh, how grand !
All gone musty,
Bread-and-Butter, hard as granite,
With sad, shrill wailing, high above the waters,
The slender white seagulls swoop and soar:
Listen to the salt waves softly sighing,
Listen to the breakers crashing on the shore—
“An I says to ‘er, I says—“ “I wanner sticker rock.”
“Johnnie’s gorn an’ pinched me bucket and spide.“
“Let’s ‘ave some fishanchips.“ “Buy me an ice-cream.”
“Wind up the gramophone.” “Pass the lemonide.”
Look at that fat man,
Playing with a beach ball’
Just like a walrus,
Just like a walrus ;
Look at these chocolate papers, toffee papers, newspapers,
And those broken bottles, pleasant for the feet :
Here are the side-shows,
Hark! the showmen softly call—
Giraffe-necked women, three legged women,
Fat women, headless women.
Yonder people half-drunk, two-thirds-drunk, completely drunk.
Not a few hyper-drunk, rolling down the street,
Hurrah ! for the sea-shore,
Hurrah ! for the deck chairs,
(Twopence a time) ;
Cheers for the deep sea, the green sea, the dirty sea,
Covered with frothy-brown,
‘Ray ! for the beastly rock,
Ray ! for the bandstands,
Machines to tell your fortune ;
No wonder they call us
All that remains now is to show you just one or two pictures of Blackpool. Here’s the beach, pier and tower :
And here is an aerial view of the most famous holiday resort in England:
Here are the attractions in the South Shore area:
Here’s the North Pier. You’d think nobody had heard of any other seaside resort in England. Every single English family and their dog, has turned up:
And here’s the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens:
And finally, a couple of family photographs, both of them taken at Blackpool. First of all, the rather bored little boy is my Dad, born 1922. He looks about eight or nine to me. The lady with him is his mother, my grandmother. Behind them is an escape convict, blending in very skilfully with the cloche hatted crowd :
My grandad, the one who went to Canada and fought in their army, was the husband of the lady above. His father was my namesake, John Knifton, who seems to have acquired a touch of dementia in his final years. On one occasion, at a rather advanced age, he went up to Dr Love’s surgery in High Street, Woodville, and told him that he had come for the job as a doctor. There was, of course, no job. Dr Love went down to see his son, my grandad, and announced to him that “the old professor has really flipped his lid !”
So, here’s the Old Professor:
The lady with him was his second wife, a rather vinegary lady who my grandad and his brothers hated with a will. They would eventually finish up walking down a gangplank onto the docks at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, because of her.
And finally, did you spot him? Staircase K ?