If Something's Worth Doing, Give Yourself Plenty Of Time (12 January 1973)
This week, my friends, I draw attention to three items of “news.”
ITEM 1. Fears about the possible disappearance of some of the smaller local authorities and dissatisfaction because their work is already being frustrated have been expressed at a meeting of the Winslow Rural Council.
ITEM 2. Because as yet there has been no announcement about a new town in North Bucks, the Town and Country Planning committee are considering developing Aylesbury as a town of 60,000 people.
ITEM 3. Speaking in a foreign affairs debate in the House of Commons, the North Bucks MP said “Surely, we and every other European country, in order to make better use of our resources, must have the wider market which has been spoken about…”
Of course, you will have realised by now that these items are old. But how old? I will enlighten you. They appeared in the month of January, 1948, and I’m not sure I didn’t write two of them myself.
But the moral is plain.
If you want to get anything done like re-organising local government, creating a new city, or joining a common market, give yourself 25 years to get started.
Not that I necessarily agree with each or any of those projects, except in so far as they have given me something to write about occasionally.
The North Bucks MP referred to above was Mr. Aidan Crawley. He was elected on the Labour ticket in the election that put in the Attlee government at the end of the war. With his pre-war cricketing activities and his wartime RAF record, he was a popular figure.
He also had a delightful wife in the American authoress, Virginia Cowles. She accompanied him once when he came into the Gazette office. After introductions she intrigued me by saying what sounded like that she was “from Bastan, the American one.”
What a menace the American short “O” must be to their actors. We see a knight in shining armour or a Robin Hood in fustian prancing around on a cinema screen in what could be the authentic style. Then suddenly he opens his mouth and that does it. The dramatic spectacular becomes a laugh, though the Americans may be right and we may be wrong. Even England, let alone the world would be a duller place if everybody spoke English in the same way.
But to return to Mr. Crawley. I suppose that one of the most pleasing jobs he had to do in the constituency was formally to open Bletchley’s first post-war council house.
At that time the post-war birthrate was bulging and I should think that the demand for houses was proportionately greater than it is even today. At any rate, Bletchley councillors trying to get to the council chamber were regularly besieged on the office stairs by lots of people, especially women, demanding “What about a house for me?” and so on.
Back to Mr. Crawley. He was, of course, a good cricketer and especially useful with the long handle. One Saturday afternoon he turned out for the town team at Bletchley Park. The other side batted first and he took three of the nine wickets which fell before a declaration was made at a tidy total.
The Bletchley openers went for ducks. Crawley batted No. 3 and made two or three hits which would have smashed the grammar school windows, if the school had been there then.
Alas, he was too ambitious and was caught for 25. Peter Gladwin, who at No.4 saw the back of his MP, then went on to make a typically patient 40 not out which enabled Bletchley to settle for a draw with two or three wickets left, rather than score the outright quick win which had evidently been the Crawley intent. John Smithie, now the Town Manager, figured well in support of Peter. And I believe Bernard James was another.
Mr. Crawley lost his seat in 1951 and some years later changed his political spots.