The morning down pour had quickly led to the abandonment of the first day’s beach expedition. Things were bad. The picnic basket was not even opened before the rain started to fall. And with the man on the wireless promising strong north easterlies and a high chance of further heavy precipitation, I had a problem! It was the last week of the school holidays and I had promised the 1950’s accountants, my offspring, Debit and Credit, a good old fashioned English seaside holiday on the North Norfolk coast.
They had listened to my childhood reminiscences of endless sunny days spent at the beach; sunburn, sandwiches with real sand in them washed down by seawater from failed wave jumping and ever more complex sandcastles as the week progressed, until Friday yielded something that would have won Norman Foster awards. They had listened with wonder and they wanted some of those good times. But the weather was starting to ruin things and I needed a plan to keep them entertained.
To buy myself some thinking time I handed them each a copy of Deadman’s summer special from the last blog. Perhaps it was the lack of a wordsearch, the missing Spangles (note to Deadman – possible improvements for 2011?) or maybe the incredibly short attention span of today’s younger generation, but within ten minutes tempers were starting to fray.
And then, just as the wheels were starting to come off the holiday bus, a problem I don’t remember Cliff Richard facing and he was away for not just seven days but “a week or two”, Deadman’s own words came back to me – another highlight from summer holidays when we were kids was a new pair of NHS 524s – and the answer was obvious. We would contact Deadman and I would source them their very first pair of 524s. Pink for her and blue for him. If I couldn’t give them a beach holiday to remember I could at least provide them a seaside “spectacle”ular that they would not forget.
We were staying local but Deadman’s contact details were on my rolodex. And my rolodex was back in the office, hundreds of miles away. We were just going to have to do this the old fashioned way and seek him out.
But where to look? Easy, thought I, wherever vintage things could be found. To avoid too many questions that I knew I couldn’t answer, I dressed it up for the 1950s accountants as a Norfolk version of Where’s Wally – Where’s Deadman. And with that we had our rain coats, long trousers and sensible footwear on and we were out of the door on an adventure.
With the week running out fast, no confirmed sighting and not even the faintest sniff of the Deadman being close (the give away odour being a mild whiff of pork scratchings, they tell me), we gave up the ghost, or the bespectacled skeleton I should say, and headed back to the seaside for one last try on the beach.
And on that final day, just before we packed up after another washout on the beach everything became clear, both literally and metaphorically. As the sun showed itself for the first time that week I remembered that the next day was the start of the August bank holiday weekend - the Twinwoods weekend. No wonder we couldn’t find Deadman out and about around Norfolk. He had no doubt been at HQ overseeing last minute preparations for the DMS stall at the Glenn Miller Festival.
Bunny Hooper "The 1940's Accountant" audits the Deadman's stall at Twinwoods
The children didn’t get their old fashioned week on the beach or their vintage 524s. However, they weren’t too disappointed. We saw some great places and met lots of interesting people. Rain or (unlikely) shine we will be back next summer and many times before then because we love the area.
And if you want to play Where’s Deadman you will have an easier job than I had last week if you head along to the North Norfolk Railway’s Famous Forties event during the weekend of 18 / 19 September. Deadman will be there offering to the public a fine selection of his vintage frames. If you do go I may see you there. You will recognise me from my children, wearing their newly refurbished 524s. Debit in the pink and Credit in the blue.
The 1940’s Accountant