UPDATES: Book Blurb

Say hello to Tony, always quick with a joke, or a story, and always happy to meet you for a drink. In his time he’s worn many different hats. He’s been a son, a brother, a partner and a lover. He’s been a factory worker and a salesman, managed a pub and a bed shop. He’s driven Jaguar cars, been married and divorced. He’s had one night stands and long term relationships.

But he only ever really wanted one woman and one town.

This is Tony’s story, a patchwork of places, jobs and people, of ups and downs, but through all of it, Tony is always optimistic, and he is the one that can cope, whatever happens. And when he can’t, well, there is always his Jaguar and the open road, and sometimes there are friends around to help him remember who Tony is.

 

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UPDATES: Dedication Page

 

 

Dedicated to G, for all the reasons in the world.

 

 

“I never collected press clippings, but I imagine that if I had, there would be just a few that directly mentioned me, but a lot more that would have news which impacted me in a way that others wouldn’t know. Maybe, if one collected those news items together, one might get an idea about someone’s journey, a kind of paper trail of events that would lead one through the highways and byways of their life.”

 

Derek Knight, November 2016

 

 

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UPDATES: The Mansion

Lynn News:

Births Announcements

PLATT Congratulations to Mark and Samantha on the birth of BENJAMIN STUART on 2nd of June 1953, younger brother of ANTHONY JOHN

 

 

I always tell people that I grew up in a mansion, and like many of the things I say, it’s true in a general sense.

My father was a farm laborer, and my parents rented the gatehouse of a country mansion. The other buildings and most of the grounds were deserted back when I lived there. The mansion itself was impressive but was slowly crumbling because the owners didn’t have the money to keep it up.

I assume I had a room to myself until Ben was born, but I don’t actually remember a time before we shared a bedroom. Most of my early memories of home life are of the large kitchen, which always seemed to be cold even in the hottest of days. I have some good memories of it, but my most vivid ones are of sitting on the floor by the fire playing with Ben and hearing my parents from the other end of the room. Usually, it was just routine things, but sometimes their voices started to get louder, and when one of us tried to say something we were told to be quite because our parents were “trying to have a grown-up conversation.”

This often ended with Dad putting on his coat and going down to the village, with Mother noisily cleaning up the kitchen. Later, when Ben and I were in bed I’d hear Dad come back in, and sometimes the voices would carry on, but mostly there was silence for days afterward.

The cottage we lived in was about a mile from the sea, with nothing but rolling farmland between us and the sandy beach. The tide went out for miles, leaving a vast expanse of glistening sand, which made a fantastic playground for young kids. Ben and I were always finding something to explore, shells to dig up, and occasionally a dead fish or bird to examine.

The village of South Uppingham was about a mile in the other direction, and at the time, it seemed like the most exciting place in the world. Really it was just a little collection of cottages, a church, a couple of stores and three pubs. The market town of Lynn was another 15 miles away, but it might as well have been in a different country for all the relevance it had for us. Even so, every month Mother would go “up to town” and spend the day in the Lynn shops. Sometimes she took us, but I was happier wading barefoot in the sand pools than walking the streets of Lynn. Between us and Lynn, the resort of Hunstanton was the bright spot during the summer, always full of tourists and day-trippers up from the city. Us local kids preferred our own small area of the beach, where we could talk to the fishermen, play in the sand dunes and spend the long hot summer days just being happy to be alive.

One day Ben and I happened upon some driftwood on the shore and decided on a great adventure. Filled with some strange fantasy idea, I resolved that we would make a raft and sail across the sea to Germany. I’m not sure why Germany, maybe I’d heard a fisherman talk about the country, but it was an idea that stuck in my head. Ben was apprehensive at first, but I told him it would be OK, and that we could get some cake when we got there. He was happy at that, so we set about building our craft.

It took about 3 days to put together our makeshift boat, and we waited until the next high tide before pushing our craft into the waves. It was a calm sunny morning, and for a time it was fun as we floated gently along with a slight breeze. It wasn’t long before Ben started to complain about being hungry, and wanted to know when we would reach Germany and the cake I had promised him.

As the day wore on I realized that maybe it would take longer than I had thought to get to Germany, and I wished we had brought along something to drink. Eventually the sun began to set, and the adventure didn’t seem so much fun anymore. We were both soaked to the skin and starting to shiver violently when we saw one of the local fishing boats approaching.

Mother and Dad had discovered we had gone and reported us missing to the police, who, in turn, had alerted the local fishermen to keep an eye out. I remember how much the fishermen laughed when they pulled us out of our craft and the smell of fish as we sat there. I thought it strange when they gave me a cold drink to warm me up, but when I swallowed it, I thought my throat was on fire, and my gasps made the men laugh even more.

Needless to say, we were severely punished for our escapade, and I don’t think we were allowed out on the beach for many weeks after that. We had to go to the police and apologize for wasting their time and thank the fishermen for their kindness, but every time I started to explain about wanting to float to Germany they just started laughing all over again. Soon it became the talk of the village, and for a while, we were known as the German brothers.

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UPDATE: Socially Conditioned Semantic Variations

Extracting the sociolinguistic variable

What is the connection between social conditioning and mood variations in a post-modern society? And how do social semantics fit into overall linguistic variables?

Simple questions perhaps, but they point to a greater depth of complexity than can be explained purely by a socially conditioned interpretation.

 

 

At the end of that academic year, Ruby came home with even more books and told me that she had decided to do research on socially-conditioned semantic variations.

I looked at her blankly; I had literally no idea what she was talking about. She smiled at me and did her best to explain the concepts involved, but in the end, I just decided that if it made Ruby happy, that was all I needed to know.

That summer seemed to fly by, and soon it was time for Ruby to head back north of the border. I felt that we hadn’t really had any time for ourselves, and asked if she really needed to go to Edinburgh full time. After all, I said, she must have all the books she needed in her office. Ruby smiled at me “And I will miss you too Tony” she said. “But yes I do need to be there, it helps me to go to their library, and I have lectures and tutorials to go to. It won’t be long, you’ll see the year will go by in a flash.”

She was right, of course. “Normal” is just what you get used to. Our new normal was that I was alone in Lynn, and she was alone in Edinburgh, each of us doing what we needed to do to get by. It helped that I was able to call on Mary sometimes to come over and “help with a recipe I wanted to try” or go over to her place to “see what I could do with a broken washing machine.” We became increasingly inventive in our reasons for meeting alone, and if anyone ever put two and two together, they never said anything.

 

Her fourth year of study was even more intense. When I visited, Ruby was even more distracted and entirely focused on her goal. I hardly saw Ruby as she crammed for her finals. She even stayed in Edinburgh over the spring break, and when we talked on the phone, it was very brief and tense. Then suddenly, she had completed her dissertation, and it was over. We celebrated by taking a holiday trip to South Africa and then came back home to wait for the results.

When the envelope arrived, Ruby called me, and I drove home to be with her as she looked at her results. She was as nervous as I’d ever seen her, and she tore open the letter with quivering hands. As she read the paper, her face went white, then she looked at me, wide-eyed. “Oh my dear God Tony, I’ve done it, I am an MA Honors in Linguistics.”

I grabbed her, and we laughed and kissed and were both just giddy with excitement. I opened a bottle of champagne that I’d set aside for just this particular occasion, and we were enjoying our second glass when the phone started ringing, with all her student friends calling to exchange results. I admit to feeling a little put out that I had to share her with others, but I put a smile on my face and watched her excitement.

I suggested we have a party to celebrate, and Ruby was thrilled at the prospect. Soon invitations had been sent out to old classmates, neighbors, and friends, and Ruby was busy with catering and arranging the finer details. Come the evening of the party the house was full, and everyone had a great time.

After the last guest had left, Ruby and I sat on our front porch, drinking a glass of brandy and staring into the dark Norfolk night. “You know,” Ruby said after a while. “Edinburgh has the longest sunsets I’ve ever seen. I think it’s because it’s a lot further north than down here. I loved going to Portobello Beach and watching the sun over the water there. Did I ever tell you a couple of us climbed up Arthur’s seat late one night? The city was laid out before us like a set of diamonds – incredible sight.”

She had an odd wistful look on her face, and I asked if she missed Edinburgh. “I do, I really do.” She said. After a pause she carried on “I was thinking, we have to go back for the graduation ceremony next month, maybe we could go up early and spend some time there? I’d love to show you around more.” I agreed that we’d do just that, and she smiled and kissed me.

Looking back, I think maybe I should have seen the writing on the wall then, but I was so content with having Ruby back home that nothing else seemed to matter.

 

The week before Graduation we set off to Edinburgh, and Ruby and I had a great time going to the tourist sites, as well as the places that Ruby knew off the beaten track. But underneath there seemed to be something wistful and unspoken, some undercurrent that I knew was there, but that I couldn’t quite put a name to.

We hired robes, and Ruby looked spectacular as she took her turn on stage getting her diploma. Soon we were all milling around amid excited graduates, and a small group of mature students and their partners, Ruby and me included, went off to a quiet bar away from the younger crowd.

Everyone was excitedly talking about what their plans were for the future. Some were looking to return to the job market with their new found degree, a couple was coming back to do a post graduate course, and the remainder were just happy to be finished with studying. Ruby seemed unusually quiet during these discussions, but I put that down to excitement and tiredness.

We left the bar late and walked the short distance to the apartment, but rather than opening the door Ruby suddenly took my hand and led me along the Royal Mile. I asked where we were going, but she wouldn’t tell me, and soon we were at the base of Arthur’s Seat. “Last one to the top’s a sissy!” Ruby called, and we started to race along the path that wound its way up the mountain. I was out of breath after only a short distance, and Ruby stopped and encouraged me to continue. Eventually, we reached a flat area with an uninterrupted view of the city, and Ruby waited for me to catch my breath.

“The castle is just there, that’s obvious to anyone, I know,” she said, “but just below it and to the right, you see that steeple? Follow the line down to the right, and that’s where the bar is we were in tonight. Just to the right some more and down those steps – that’s Tron Square. You can’t see the apartment, but those roofs are where it is.”

“Now over the other side, you see that tower? That’s Greyfriars Kirk, did you know that Kirk is Gaelic for Church? They actually have services in Gaelic there, really fascinating to listen to the language and read along in English.” She continued to point out places and sights, each one accompanied by a description of it, or some snippet of local knowledge.

Then she paused and then let out a long sigh.

“I love this city,” she said.

“Yes I know, it’s a great place,” I replied.

She turned and looked at me, and I could tell in the moonlight that there were tears in her eyes. “No Tony, I meant precisely what I said. I actually love this city. You remember back when we were kids, and I lived in that crowded house with Ma and Pa and all the family? That was home. Since I left there, I’ve lived in a lot of places, some better than others, and we made the nicest place together in Sandringham. But, I have to say this Tony, none of them has felt like home. I wouldn’t have been able to express it before, but I know now that I never really felt like a place knew me, and that I really knew it. Not just a place where I stay for a time, but a place where I can actually live my own life. ”

I’d never heard Ruby talking this way before, and I was struck again by how much she had changed in the 4 years she’d been at University. At first, I had thought it was just that the country girl I had always known had changed into a woman about town. Now I was coming to see it was more than that. Back in her North End days, she’d had a type of determination that I had always admired, but now there was more. She exuded a feeling of confidence, a sense that she knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it.

“Tony, Edinburgh is home to me. This collection of old, dirty streets, shambling buildings, and annoying people are part of me, and when I’m not here, I feel empty. We had a great life in Norfolk, and I loved it and our home so much, and you too for making it possible. But when I think of leaving Edinburgh, my heart just breaks. This is where I want to live. Along these cobbled streets, my heart can sing the song it has held inside for too many years. Among these ancient seats of learning my soul can soar to the sound of the cosmos.”

She turned back to the city spread out in front of us and let out another deep sigh. “This isn’t just another city Tony, it’s in my blood now in a way I can’t explain. It’s in my heart, and I don’t want to, no, I can’t leave it. Tony, I want us to stay here.”

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UPDATES Work Free

Good Beer Guide

Real Pubs reviewed by Real People

“The Workers Club in Lynn is the epitome of what an English pub should be. They serve a broad range of real ales, including my personal favorite “On The Huff” from Norfolk brewery Hand Maid Ales. The landlord really knows how to look after his beers and is to be commended for the fine way he runs this town center bar.”

Overall Ranking: 8/10– Great range of real ales.

 

 

I started going to the Workers Club instead of the Anchor. It wasn’t my favorite place, but I knew a few people there, and soon got accustomed to the way it operated. And it was cheap, which was a consideration now that I was “work free.” They had a beer garden too, and I liked to take my pint out there, watch the sky and listen to the birds. It was also their smoking area, so that helped.

Then a whole host of small problems all happened at once.

First, my car started to misfire.  I suspected it was a fuel line issue, but I just didn’t have what it took to get it going properly again. To save money I’d given up the parking spot at the apartment building, and now I had it parked on one of the free areas along the quayside. One morning when I went to check on it, I saw that the front bumper had come loose on one side, and it was hanging down. It looked like maybe someone had sat or stood on it, and had broken it off. I just stopped to look at it and then walked on. It wasn’t working anyway, so why even try to fix it.

Next, the washing machine in my apartment stopped abruptly during a rinse cycle. I had to carefully remove the wet laundry, and hang it over the bath to finish drying. The machine would not work, no matter how I tinkered with it, so I was back to having to go to the laundromat. I started to wear my clothes longer; after all, I reasoned, with no job to go to, and no woman to impress, why did I need to dress up? I took to wearing the same pair of old jeans and a shirt, plus a sweater as it got colder. That way, I only needed to go and do laundry once a month or so. When I went out, I also wore a baseball cap, and that meant that I didn’t need to worry about my hair too much, and I just let it grow.

Then one of my front teeth broke. I had always hated going to the dentist, and when I left home, it became easy to avoid having to do so. Over the years I’d have an occasional pain in my mouth, but nothing that wouldn’t go away after a time. I hadn’t had any dental work done since my early twenties, and now, of all times, I lose a tooth, and one that showed too. It didn’t hurt, although my tongue could feel the sharp edges where it had broken. After a while, I even got used to that feeling too, and hardly noticed the lost tooth. It was only when someone else reacted that I was even aware that there was an issue.

 

The Workers catered to an older clientele, and a lot of the regulars were retired folk. I didn’t consider myself retired, just work-free, but it was easy to slip into that retired mindset too. One of the people I got friendly with was a retired office manager called Del. He lived in one of the old cottages further along the quayside, and we got into the habit of meeting in the Workers soon after they opened, having a few pints, then going for a stroll around town.

It was on one of these walks that we bumped into Percy, who said they had missed me at the Anchor and asked after my health. I told him I was doing fine, and that I’d found a new place to drink. Percy mentioned my car, which he’d spotted on the quayside. I really didn’t want to talk about it, and said that I was about to get it taken care of. Del had also been a regular at the Anchor at one time and said maybe we’d drop in one afternoon.

“That would be great!” Percy said, “Tell you what, the first ones on me, how’s that?”

I was non-committal, but Del seemed keen. A few days later, our afternoon walk found us going along the High Street, and Del suggested visiting the Anchor for the free drink we’d been promised. It was one of those days when the wind seemed to be coming straight down from the Arctic cycle, and so I agreed if only to get out of the cold.

Even though I’d not been in the Anchor since that fateful discussion with Steve, I immediately felt at home again, as the warmth of the familiar flowed through me. It was getting towards evening, and soon Julie came into the bar, and it was good to meet someone who was genuinely pleased to see me. When she found out I was still job free, Julie started checking in the local paper for me, which was sweet of her, but not necessary. I was about to say so when she stopped short and said: “Have you lost a front tooth?”

Over the previous few months, I’d learned how to keep my mouth closed more, and most people I met didn’t notice it anyway, but I guess I must have smiled more than normal, and Julie did notice. I didn’t know what to say, so I pretended not to hear her question and turned the conversation to how The Linnets were doing in the league this year.

At home that night, I swore never to go to the Anchor again, that I’d not talk to Julie again, and probably not to go to the Workers either, in case I ran into Del there.

The next morning I went to the store and bought myself a case of beer and a bottle of good scotch. This would be cheaper even than the Workers, and I could sit at home, drink and watch the world go by outside my window.

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UPDATES : Being Tony

 

Being Tony

 

 

 

After they had left, I started pacing up and down, my head a maelstrom of thoughts. I looked at the bottle that Angel had brought for me; Kentucky Bourbon. I opened the bottle and smiled when the aroma hit my nostrils. I wondered if Percy had suggested that particular drink, knowing it would bring back memories of our Christmas party. I went to the fridge in the faint hope that there might be some ice, but there wasn’t, so I just cleaned a glass on my shirt, and poured myself a drink. I lit another cigarette and sat looking out of the window.

What the girls had said about me “being Tony” somehow kept repeating over and over in my head. How would I recognize who Tony was? For one thing, Tony was a Jag owner, so I went and found my old Jag Owners jacket in the wardrobe. As I pulled it out, I noticed my box of clippings, so I picked that up as well and brought them both to the window seat. Opening the box, the memories came flooding back.

There, faded and discolored, but still readable was the birth announcement for my brother. I chuckled as the sudden recollection of our attempt to sail to Germany came to mind. Turning over a few more old papers, there was a clipping about the County Fair, and I remembered the first time I got really drunk.

I found a notice from the parish church when Mrs. McKinley had won a cookery prize. I’d forgotten what a great cook she had been, and the wonderful food she made when she came to live with Dad and me. My thoughts naturally turned to her and Dad, and I thought about their marriage, and the aftermath.

I looked through the box and found the Lynn News clipping asking for help in finding me. That brought back memories of Ruby and our own sweet summer of love.

I knew it had to be there, but when I found the wedding announcement for Ruby and me, my world stood still. I just held that in my hand for a long time, trying to bring back that brief time in my life when I’d been happy and felt fulfilled.

There was more; I found the article from when I crashed the car, the ad for our house in Sandringham, well, two of them, actually, one when we bought it, and then a few years later when we moved to Edinburgh. I found the ad for the Edinburgh house too, a flyer for the Food Truck, and a paper from when Ruby was a student the first time around. There were clippings about the flood, mentioning High Street News, which made me remember High Street Eats. I chuckled at the Good Beer Guide pages I had saved, the Harbor Inn, Fingers, and the Walpole Arms, all very different places that held so many different memories.

I suddenly felt a chill and pulled the jacket around my shoulders. As I did, I felt the notes from Maggie still in the inside pocket and got them out to read. I hadn’t put them in the box in case Ruby found them, but that didn’t seem likely anymore. After I’d read them, I gently placed them in with all my other keepsakes.

So many memories of the things I’d been in my life, and they had all been right at the time. Somehow Julie and Angel’s comments kept coming back to me, I started to think that maybe I had forgotten how to be Tony. I was always the one looking at the bright side, looking for the positive. I’d always been a friend, and now it seemed I needed to accept friendship from other people.

I noticed that my right arm had begun to shake. It sometimes did nowadays, but this time, it was really noticeable, and on top of that I was getting a severe case of heartburn.

I knew that Angel and Julie just wanted to be good friends. Probably the fact that they were gay helped me accept them more. I didn’t feel like I needed to impress them or wonder if I could get them into bed with me. I wondered if they were partners now, was that why they came to see me together, or were they just drinking on a Saturday night at the Anchor. I’d forgotten that I really loved the atmosphere in the pub, the fun and loose talk, the joking and the story telling.

Wow, this heartburn is really painful, and I’m clearly not used to the bourbon because I’m starting to feel a bit sick too. When I light another cigarette, I can’t seem to get enough breath to enjoy it, so stub it out half finished.

I need to think more about this “being Tony” thing, but for now, I’m getting quite dizzy and am shaking a lot, so I think I’ll go lie down. Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow I’ll shower and change my clothes. Angel can help me clean up this place, and I’ll ask Julie to support me in finding a good dentist.

I’m smiling, even though the pain in my chest is dreadful, it’s so tight I can hardly catch my breath.

But tomorrow I will start Being Tony again.

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Being Tony Updates: Coda

Coda

 

Lynn News.

Obituaries: Anthony John Platt

PLATT Last Sunday suddenly at home Anthony (Tony) John Platt aged 61 of Lynn. Will be greatly missed by family and his many friends.

Family flowers only, please, donations if desired to the British Heart Foundation or Grayfriars Kirk Outreach Program.

 

Memorials: Anthony John Platt

 

I will always remember that you were the one who set me free to be me. You were my first and my last, and you will be missed in this life, but I know we will meet again in the next.

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Ruby

++++++

To my Big Brother Tony, I wish we had been closer

Ben and Loren, Mark, Samantha, and Pat

++++++

We can’t believe you have left us so soon. You were one of the best Tony, and we are glad we started to know the real you.

Your Good Friends Julie and Angelina

++++++

You gave a lot of joy to a lot of people, and we will miss your positive energy. Rest in peace, dear friend.

Mary, Pete, and Dani

++++++

You were one of the good guys Tony, and you will be so greatly missed. Rest in peace.

Peggy and all the staff at Brightstone Beds

++++++

Can’t believe you won’t be propping up the bar and telling us all those old stories of yours anymore Tony. Rest In peace pal.

Percy and all at The Jolly Anchor

++++++

I’m sorry you were taken so young, and I know you will be missed by your many friends in town.

John Wiggins

++++++

Oh, Tony! I miss you so much!

M

++++++

Thanks for the memories, I think of you every time I stay at the cottage.

Maggie Cadogan

++++++

Never thought I’d outlast Wonderboy Tony! I recall our days working on the cottage, and in the pub – good times! I never did get what the women saw in you, but you certainly had something.

Graham

++++++

I will always remember your kindness to me when I really needed it. You were one of the best sir, and I appreciate all you did.

James (Jesse) Walker, OBE

++++++

You gave us our start in the catering industry, and we are forever grateful for that. We would not be where we are now without your support and kindness back then.

Malcolm and Karen Douglas; Douglas’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, Wareham

++++++

Dearest Tony, how the years melt away and I feel your arms around me as we mourned the loss of our little one. I will always remember our time together with affection, you were a tower of strength, and we were a great team.

Judy

++++++

Where do the years go? It seems like only yesterday this scruffy kid shared our bedroom, and now you have gone to meet the Lord.

You are in our prayers dear one, Rest in Peace.

Reverend Johnny Smith

Dr. Billy Smith

++++++

I just heard the tragic news. I will always remember your strength and support, and there will always be a place in my heart for you.

Betty Williamson, Williamson Hotels Group

++++++

Uncle Tony, Thank you for being there for Mum and me when we needed you. I’m sorry it didn’t work out between you guys, but I was so very proud of you.

Lucy

++++++

You were taken too soon Anthony, you will be missed.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Roberts

++++++

Tony, I never really thanked you for giving me the push to be a full-time painter and illustrator, and even though I was devastated at the time, that incident with the law proved to be pivotal in my artistic growth.

May you find peace at last.

George Smart

++++++

Rest in peace, old son, I really miss our walks and our chats.

Del

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