Thoughts for Today
Back in 1991, Bobby’s mum Dorothy died at 91. Born in 1899, she had “had a good innings”. She left Bobby a little dosh and he bought me and I came to live at Saffrons in Dorking. At the time, he had worked for the Legal and General Assurance Society (L&G) for 29 years. A job of supreme security. Fringe benefits including a generous mortgage scheme.
Saffrons was all down to him working for the L&G. But then the storm clouds gathered. The entire financial services industry was about to go through a massive change. Quite simply, those treasured employees had become excess baggage. Machines were taking over from human beings.
Uncertainty was fostered in the office. It seemed the management of this wonderfully benevolent company was hell bent on sowing the seeds of insecurity. Anxiety was rife. Would those years at the “holiday camp” be numbered? Bobby was “in charge” of about fifteen people. Mostly ladies. His job had become a button pushing progress chaser.
He almost looked forward to being chucked out, but not the loss of employment. Each day he was required to send his office an email to tell them how well they had done the previous day in percentage effectiveness. Bloody hell. How sad was that?
With rampant anxiety throughout the office, he dreamt up “Thoughts for Today”. In secret. The management would not have approved. Each day those figures were preceded by quotes, poems, Micky-taking, jokes, impromptu competitions. With Kit Kats for prizes.
And he told stories about his new friend. A teddy bear called Bertie. Me. After nearly a year of this, he was due to spend a week on Skomer Island. The situation had deteriorated so badly that he felt it likely that he would not be allowed back in the building. He waited until everyone had gone home and wrote what could have be the last Thoughts of the Day.
Everyone was left a memento. A stapler for Andy. A rubber for Sue and to Bernard his trusted lieutenant… “Bernard I leave you my job”. They let him back him in, but then it was Bobby himself that was chucked out a month later (sorry “his job was made redundant”).
The success of Thoughts for Today was revealed in cheerio cards his office sent him. And he still has the tiny photo album that introduced me to his office. And here it is. I was young then. Much fluffier. With very furry ears. Nowadays I prefer to be seen as an old bear of character. Hate being asked if I am Steiff and content to be with the other bears and Bobby.
All these pictures were taken on holiday in Pembrokeshire.
When Bobby moved into Laurel Cottage he brought the pig with him. Diddley hated it. So Bobby hid it in the bushes. It weighs a ton. But there is still was. In the bushes. Following the photo shoot, it may go back. Notice the skew whiff bow tie on the right. It’s the same one on the left. For the wedding of Bobby and Diddley in Scotland, I wore a very smart tartan bow tie. And I do have a sparkly Christmas one, but otherwise it’s the same bow tie I came with in 1991.
Those cards arrived when Bobby had sunk into gloomy GAD. Little did he know that they may well have signalled the end of a substantial period of his life, but they preceded what eventually became and remains to this day the best period of all. A time of romance, friendship, Skomer, Skokholm, Al-Anon, Yorkshire and the Cotswolds. Train trips round Europe.
And, most importantly of all, grandchildren and great grandchildren who had not even been born then. Some were limericks. Some even Shakespeare. The content of the cards is saved for posterity here. (Some of our readers wrote on those cards thirty years ago!)
(Click on each for a larger version).
It’s hard to pick just one. But here is a friend no longer with us who summed it up perfectly. The ducks of Arundel being a favourite in Thoughts for Today.
We learned with sadness at the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. Bobby has a rather unusual memory of the Duke from his plane spotting days at London Airport (Heathrow). During the fifties BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) flew a fleet of Bristol Britannias. The so called ‘Whispering Giant”. Their registrations formed a series starting at G-ANBA and included G-ANBG.
The registration G-ANBG was dispensed with and reregistered as G-APLL. Check the tailfin. It started as G-ANBG. The reason was that “NBG” could well be “No Bloody Good”. But back then the expression was always attributed to the Duke who was renowned for his forthright manner.
Lighting a Candle for Diddley