The Jolly Sort Of Lord Called Longford
I suppose the name of Lord Longford means different things to different people. But whatever else it may mean it would be wrong to think of him as a killjoy. I can even tell you what he prefers in the shape of women’s legs.
You see, Lord Longford was formerly Lord Pakenham. He was a great friend of Mr. Aiden Crawley, who in 1945 was the first Labour MP that North Bucks had ever had, and was often with him in the constituency until Mr. Crawley lost the seat in 1951.
The year after their triumph the Labour Party held a fete at Bletchley. It was opened by Mrs. Crawley. She also judged a men’s legs competition. A similar competition for women was judged by Mr. Crawley, with Lord Pakenham standing by.
Later Mr. Crawley was asked for tips on how to judge women’s legs.
“I don’t like them tubular,” he said, “and there has to be symmetry.”
At which Lord Pakenham interposed the observation that “There has to be a certain amount of curve.”
SO THERE you are. Don’t think he doesn’t appreciate the finer points of the female form. He did then and I don’t suppose he has changed along with his change of title or his age. In fact, he was a jolly sort of chap on those days out.
“He often came into our house – usually to borrow my husband’s trousers when he has to go somewhere special. He has some of his own, but they are usually at Oxford, where he lives,” said Mrs Crawley.
“The other day he rushed in and was rushing out with the trousers over his arm when I asked him what was happening. He said ‘I have just been summoned to Buckingham Palace’ and then he was off.”
Neither Lord Pakenham nor Mr. Crawley was without trousers at the fete.
LORD PAKENHAM was with the party (non-political) once or twice when Mr. Crawley turned out to play for the Bletchley Town cricket team at the park that season. He did not play, but he was an interested spectator and a good companion at the tea table in the pavilion.
He could have been there on September 7, which was a special kind of day. The newly-formed Bletchley Town Sports Club had obtained the use of the park ground and pavilion at a rent of £50 a year for the playing of cricket, football and hockey. This was a temporary arrangement with the education authority, it being understood that eventually the club would move to the Manor Fields which the council had recently acquired.
A SOCCER SECTION
There had been a town cricket club for many years, but no real town soccer club. However, a soccer section of the sports club had been formed that summer and they placed heavy reliance on having the services of the pre-war Fenny Juniors, now that they had become seniors – and also, in those days of clothing coupons, the juniors’ amber and black kit.
THE SECTION had entered the North Bucks League as “Bletchley Sports” and this was to be their first league match. As it happened, they had to play in white and black because amber and black would have clashed with the colours of opponents, Winslow United, though I believe they played following matches in the old Fenny colours.
The soccer pitch was where the grammar school now stands. On that day the cricket eleven were playing at home as well. To add to it all, the resuscitated town band also turned out – I think it was for their first post-war time – and so it became a kind of field day.
OPTIMISM IN THE AIR
But one incident I do remember is that Mr. Crawley nearly scored a goal as well as a six by landing the ball on the soccer pitch with one of his big hits.
Despite the austerity, those were optimistic, almost care-free days compared with what had gone before. Things were getting moving again. Organisations were beginning to pick up where they had left off five years previously, though some had not survived the war.
A VICTORY celebration was held in the town. A Welcome Home fund had been set up. It amounted to about £4,000 and was distributed to the town’s returning members of the forces at about £4.10s a head.
COMMONWEALTH GIFT PARCELS
Gift parcels of fruits and other foods were being sent from the Commonwealth – notably from South Africa. Bletchley’s share was distributed to the old and infirm.
And the first, small consignment of bananas was received by local fruiterers, Johnson’s. About 80 youngsters turned up for a special distribution. The bananas cost from 3½d to 5d each, according to the size of the banana. Some of the kiddies had not seen a banana before, much less tasted one. Some did not like them and one seven-year-old girl was heard to ask, “Please, what do I do with the inside?”
Presumably that little girl is now aged 34. I hope she like(s) bananas, especially the insides.