These days I live in Telford, Shropshire. It's a "new town" created in 1963 when some government functionary stuck a pair of compasses in a map of Shropshire and drew a big circle encompassing such long standing villages as St Georges, Priorslee, Oakengates, Hadley, Ironbridge, Broseley, Wellington etc. etc. and pronounced "right we'll call that New Dawley". Sense eventually prevailed and the "new town" was named Telford (in honour of the Scottish engineer Thomas Telford who built what we now know as the A5, or the Holyhead Road. Actually the Romans started it hence some bits of it being straight as an arrow (see below) and Telford added some bits that eventually joined London to Holyhead in Wales and hence the ferry to Ireland)
Anyway Telford is known for many things. It's know as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution due to Ironbridge's reputation for iron smelting and the building of the first iron bridge there (see what they did there?); it's known as a former mining area; it's known because the Romans settled there; it's known because The Wrekin is close by. What it's not known for is the number of famous types who frequent it. So imagine my surprise yesterday when travelling home to find two such famous types travelling through it or actually being in it !
I boarded my usual train home yesterday afternoon and after finding my inarguably better half and sitting down a bit of a kerfuffle began in the aisle next to us. A fellow in a parka ("hmmm, Mod", I thought. I notice these things) began unpacking his bag and removing said parka and in the process blocking the aisle as people were trying to get on and find seats. As he removed the parka I noticed the label on his jeans "hmmm, Levi 501's" and to confirm my suspicions looked down toward the floor to see 1" turn ups on the 501's and a pair of green suede chisel toed desert boots. "Definitely a Mod" I thought to myself. He sat down and I looked over at him and was most surprised to be confronted with the face of Paolo Hewitt. "It's Paolo Hewitt" I muttered to my better half "what's he doing on a train to Telford ?". Just about then some older ladies came and sat down, a discussion began about reserved seats and Paolo eventually disappeared into the next carriage so I never got the chance to find out what he was doing on a train toward Telford.
So then, for those of you who have no idea who I am talking about, Paolo Hewitt (that's him above), is a writer, great friend of Paul Weller and über Mod. His writing covers the wide spectrum of all things Modernist from his biography of the Small Faces (The Young Mods Forgotten Story), Mods in general (The Sharper Word & The Soul Stylists), himself (The Looked-after Kid: Memoirs from the Children's Home), Ben Sherman's (My Favourite Shirt) and of course Paul Weller (A Beat Concerto & The Changingman). He also wrote the introduction to the sleeve notes of a CD box set called "The In Crowd - The Ultimate Mod Collection 1958 - 1967" an anthology of Mod music, which in my opinion is the best short summary of what Mod is I've ever read. If you are interested in the Mod lifestyle at all, Paolo is the man to read.
Now if all that wasn't enough there was more ! I left the train at Telford, and caught a bus home from the station. As we were stuck in the mini traffic jam that seems to accumulate at the exit to Telford Central Station around 5pm-ish I looked out of the window and saw to my astonishment a large gentleman, dressed from head to toe in black, his black short sleeved shirt unbuttoned halfway down, balding but with black hair around the sides. Again I said to my, by now blasé, better half "it's The Count". "WHO?" I hear you cry. "The Count...Ted Hankey...current BDO World Professional Darts Champion" I reply.
I love darts, I used to play it, very badly I might add. Now I know Ted lives in the town but I must admit to being surprised at seeing a World Champion striding across a grass verge next to a car park in Telford. Can't imagine ever seeing Roger Federer doing that !
Crikey, what a day...
6 hours ago