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The Squirt 2019

Never too late to see an
up-to-date take on a
village tradition.

Many thanks to Grant Lester for his drone-view video of the Battle between the Geddington Volunter Fire Brigade and Kettering Fire & Rescue Service on 26 December 2019.

And well done Geddington, for this result!
Although I thought it was usually the best out of three? Just asking.

Geddington Amazing Millennium Experience

1999, and the year 2000 could have been just another year in our lives. Except it wasn’t. Concerns were being raised worldwide that the computer industry would not be able to cope with the change from 1999 to 2000. Y2K was the shorthand term for “the year 2000”. It referred to a widespread computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause extensive havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000. Instead of allowing four digits for the year, many computer programs only allowed two digits (e.g. 99 instead of 1999). As a result, there was immense panic that computers would be unable to operate when the date descended from “99” to “00”. Would it all come crashing down?

Well, it obviously didn’t. But this was not achieved without a great deal of work done by major companies, who decided to resolve the problems by upgrading their systems and business processes. The smaller businesses were pressurised to do the same so that the supply chain was not interrupted. Needless to say there was an enormous increase in sales of new hard and software in the last years of the 1990s.

Was Geddington worried? Well, not that you would have noticed, instead they decided to celebrate the new New Year, and new century, with a massive party. (At this stage it’s probably best to mention the view that some people had, that the new century actually started on 1 January 2001. The same view holds that the new decade starts, not on 31.12.2019, but 31.12.2020. The argument? That Anno Domini began with year one, not year zero.)

One person had had the foresight to book the Village Hall for Friday 31st December 1999. Then he had the generosity to hand the booking over for a village event which was then organised and which eventually became known as the Geddington Amazing Millennium Experience.

After public meetings in 1998 and 1999, a committee was formed (of course!). The Minutes of the first meeting, 26 February 1999, showed the newly formed committee officers as: Chairman Lloyd Marlow, treasurer Pam Dennis (now Hopkins) and secretary Jane Rowley. Other members were: Kay Marlow, Joy Tingle, John Hughes, Paul Hopkins and Kristi Marshall. During the year, other committee members included Hartley Plumb, Paul Richardson, Richard Paragreen, Nicola O’Brian, Mr & Mrs Chew, Jane Tysoe, Jackie & Gordon Binley and David Featherstone. In addition there were many other residents who gave their help in a huge variety of ways. Over the following months the general layout and programme were set out, and supplies ordered.

By August, the main details of the party had been pretty well finalised. So what were they? First of all the layout: there were 3 connected marquees set up in the Village Hall car park, with a covered scaffold which led to the Hall’s entrance. Inside the Hall was a Disco, a huge TV with a connection to the BBC and the Big Ben countdown, a play area for children with ‘goodie’ bags for each child, balloons and a net (to be released at midnight). In the marquees: 400 chairs and 26 x 5′ x 2.6″ tables had been allocated spaces, one blower heater, rolls of white polystyrene sheeting to line the marquees (kept the heating in a treat!), red cord carpet, paper tablecloths, a quiz, thousands of fairy lights and dozens of extension cables. Outside there was Herries fencing stretching from the changing rooms to the brick wall and across to the VH entrance, this in order to secure the site (there were 3 volunteers on site for security detail, for the 3 nights up to 31 December), there was event insurance and a skip for later use! And finally, fireworks of course! Over £2000 worth. Viewing for guests was done from the Tennis Courts, although many non-paying residents could see them from the bridge, well, why not, it was that sort of night!

The very rough layout below shows how the guests could access the marquees and Village Hall. The public entrance lead into the 1st marquee (tent 1), which was attached to the 2nd marquee (tent 2), which was attached at right angles to the 3rd marquee (Scouts), and then guests could walk through a covered scaffolding into the Village Hall. Due to the very tightness of space, tables 15, 16 and 17 (shown on the Table Plan) couldn’t be set up until the guests at all the other tables were seated! To put it succinctly once in, it was extremely difficult to move around, or get out. Just as well everyone had brought their own food and drink. (Click on each image to enlarge.)

It was never meant to be a fund-raising event, but such were the skills, the enthusiasm, the generosity of so many people and businesses, plus the euphoria of this special night, that over £600 was left after expenses. This was divided between The Newsletter, the St Magdalene Church, the Samuel Lee Charity, Age Concern (local branch), Mums & Tots, but the largest proportion went to the Village Hall, who had offered it free of charge! A letter of thanks and a commemorative badge (do you still have yours?) were sent to a list of people, organisations and businesses who willingly gave their help to one of the biggest parties this village has seen in living memory.
The list included:
Mr & Mrs Chew, Geddington Parish Council, Village Hall Committee, Stryder Publishing, Lynsey, Glen Armer, Rob Bye, Andrew Plumb, Philip & Paul Sant, Leonara, Burwells, John Wilkinson, John Cole, Pete Rowney, Kettering Scouts, Geddington Scouts, G.A.M.E., G.S.S., G.V.F.B., Sealed Air and Steve Crane.

I started off this post with the words: “1999, and the year 2000 could have been just another year in our lives. Except it wasn’t.” Well it certainly wasn’t. It’s difficult to describe the enormous importance that this date meant to people at that time. Not only was it not just another year, not only not just another century, but this date put the world, as we know it, into another Millennium. There aren’t that many people alive today who will see in another century, let alone another Millennium! Just saying.

KBC Local Plan Consultation

On 18 December, Kettering Borough Council published its ‘Site Specific Part 2 Local Plan’ for the Borough.

Your specific attention is drawn to the section for ‘Rural Area / Geddington’, which will affect those living on Grafton Road, Queen Street, Kettering Road and Grange Road in particular, and to the village in general.

Follow the link below for the details:

On reaching this site, click on: 

Read and comment on document

Then: Rural Area General Policies
Then: scroll down to Geddington

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A consultation evening is to be held on
Tuesday 14 January 2020
in the Village Hall
from 5pm – 7pm

The consultation period is from
18 December 2019 to 12 February 2020.

Thank you to the Parish Council,
and to Councillor Peter Goode,
who has brought this to the village’s attention.

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Up And Coming

Whilst we are all doing our preparations ready for Christmas, we thought it might be an idea to remind ourselves of two traditional events happening post-Christmas.

Fire engines primed and ready to go!

First, is the GVFB’s Annual Squirt.

This has been running for at least 25 years. And for those not in the know, it is a friendly, but very wet, contest between Kettering Fire & Rescue Service and Geddington Volunteer Fire Brigade. Their water hoses are used to get an empty barrel across the River Ise to their opponent’s side. Onlookers can use the 12th century bridge to watch proceedings and, if the wind is in the right direction (or wrong, depending on your point of view!) you can get thoroughly drenched by the spray. So waterproofs definitely recommended. Starts approximately at 12 noon at the Eleanor Cross, then moves down to the ford.

Next up is the 12th Night Mask Supper.

How long has 12th night been celebrated in Geddington? Who knows? But I remember going to one in the Village Hall in the early 1990s. Perhaps the village’s celebrations of this date started after the Village Hall was built in the 1930s. Again, who knows? And if you do, please let me know.

The full details are in this beautiful poster.

FINALLY, we wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas, from the team

A4300 Road Closure

The A4300 will be closed from Newton Road to Grange Road on Saturday 14 December from 8am to 4pm.

For clarity see simple diagram below.

Do hope it’s to fill in all those potholes!

But expect to see more traffic through the village centre, via West St, Bridge St & Queen St, and vice versa.

Christmas Tree Festival results

Congratulations to the Festival’s organisers – another very successful event!

Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite tree and 361 votes were counted, beating last year’s votes by 1.

So, congratulations to the winners and runners-up for the Favourite Tree Competition. Results are:

1st No 13, Santa’s Merry Go Round, Brian & Pauline Evans
2nd No 27, Tree of Hope, Prison Fellowship
3rd No 28, Angels from the Skeins of Glory, Geddington Knitting Club
4th No 12, The T’ree of Hearts Yelled ‘Who Stole the Tarts’, Vic & Mo Crouse.

‘Lo, the Angels . . .’

This Christmas story, written in the 1960s and rather dated in parts, is, never the less, a tribute to all teachers who produce their school’s nativity play each year.

Other people have Christmas, village schoolteachers have nativity plays. From early November and through to the late dark days of December, the village schoolteacher feels that this year’s nativity play is possibly the most unholy thing to be conceived and produced; that parents, normally indulgent of the efforts of their offspring, will not be able to ignore this year’s fiasco; that they will see it as an open invitation to turn to another religion in disgust; that this is the very last nativity play she will attempt; that she is in the wrong profession altogether and next July she will leave and be a shorthand typist.

However, the term progresses inexorably. As December begins the clothes horses are brought from the headmistress’s adjoining house and the by now traditional scenery is touched up and pinned on to them. No one thinks of asking how the headmistress airs her clothes during December. Village headmistresses bear their discomfort with seemly stoicism. An incredible sardonic donkey peers over the scenery at a tomato box on legs, complete with fifteen-year old straw, but as yet no inhabitant. The dressing-up box is opened, the giggling angels are fitted with grubby robes and then take them home under their arms for Mother to add a little biological whiteness to the biblical scene. The shepherds tighten their dressing gown cords and wince as the hand towels are bound round their heads with a vicious pull.

The three wise men empty their mothers’ tea caddies for gold and frankincense and the vicar is approached once more for his ebony box for the myrrh. Their crowns are made from old jewellery and copious gold paint. A huge spangled star is made which, Lo! they will behold in the East. Well, at least one will point and say ‘Lo!’. The others will be grinning vacantly at the front seats. The angel Gabriel is bigger than the other angels and therefore, of a different breed she feels. She has to be dressed in the redoubtable school cleaner’s nightie, which is of cream nuns veiling ‘and made when people knew how to run an fell’ as she observed tartly. Fresh tinsel is bought from the Christmas-orientated shops in the outside world; last year’s is tarnished and would be bad for the angelic image . . .

Rehearsals move slowly. Joseph is often away at the speech clinic and has a script cunningly composed of words without the letter ‘s’. The angel Gabriel herself is away with what is reported as a ‘bladder complaint’ despite her superiority. The little shepherds cannot manage their crooks, everyone catches cold; even the little girl who is playing Mary sniffs and claps a hanky to her nose as she is asked to lean solicitously over the tomato box.

Dawn breaks on the last Thursday before the Christmas holidays. Night must fall, the teacher tells herself comfortingly, and the shorthand is coming along well.

After lunch the boys put out the chairs in rows for their mothers, aunties, grannies and for the whole tribe of Israel to sit on. The baby doll is laid in the straw for the first time. Everyone is ordered to the outside lavatories, for the last time, as they are warned severely. The whole cast is lined up at the door ready to file into what is inevitably termed a tableau. The teacher surveys the squirming line and cannot remember ever seeing such a motley bunch of shepherds, such a shifty-eyed pair of innkeepers, such a miserable Madonna, surely the most retarded of Wise Men . . . this moment is the nadir of the school teacher’s year.

But now the headmistress starts to play a well-loved carol at the piano for the audience to sing together quietly. This announces the start of the proceedings and muffles the sounds of the said tableau forming. As the music begins, the angel Gabriel is allowed up to the lavatories by special dispensation owing to the nature of her ‘complaint’. A glimpse of grey socks is seen as she hauls the nuns veiling round her knees. The teacher, by now anaesthetised to anachronisms and the like, merely breathes a sigh of relief as a flash of tinsel past a back window denotes mission accomplished and a speedy return.

As the music dies away, the screens are removed by two stalwart boys who have been standing behind them waiting for the countdown. The clear voice of one of the bigger girls hangs on the air of the unusually quiet schoolroom. ‘And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth . . .’ The words of the Authorised Bible, so maligned and meaningless over the past few weeks, ring out again this time clearly and truly, subtly enhanced by the soft local accent. A metamorphosis begins and takes shape under its own inpetus. The schoolteacher feels a relaxation in her heart and she knows at a certain moment every year, that this will be the fitting climax to the whole country year. These children are probably the best she has had, she thinks proudly, and it is a privilege to be able to work with them for a short part of their lives.

And lo the angel of the Lord came upon them . . . Enter the grey socks bearing the star, which, Lo they are all looking at. The screens are drawn together for the last time and the miracle, which happens ever year, has taken place once more. The moment crystallised into a private significance for each person watching.

Yes, privilege is not too strong a word, thinks the teacher proudly. Moments like these are possibly not experienced by shorthand typists.

General Election 2019

The 2019

General Election

takes place on

Thursday 12 December

Geddington Polling Station:
The Village Hall
Queen Street
Open from 7am to 10pm

The Kettering Borough candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Jim HAKEWILL Independant
Philip HOLLOBONE Conservative
Chris NELSON Liberal Democrat
Clare PAVITT Labour Party
Jamie WILDMAN Green Party

This month in the garden – December

December … plan the new gardening year

The Finished Project

The Knitting Club
has finished its
first project.

January 2019 saw the start of this new social club and its first aim was to knit 6″ squares to make into warm, snug blankets to be given to those who could make best use of them. We considered care homes to be the most favourable recipients.

The first two blankets, knitted during the spring and summer, were donated to Westhill Park and Thorndale Care Homes, where former Geddington residents were now living. Autumn saw the third blanket knitted, sewn together and completed with a beautiful and signature crocheted edge.

This blanket was taken along to The Old Vicarage Care Home in Weekley, where former resident, Don Brown, had been living. To our dismay and much sadness, we discovered that Don had recently passed away (his funeral is on Monday 2nd December, 2.30pm, at Kettering Crematorium). However, we considered that rather than be deterred, we would continue with our plan and donate it in Don’s memory.

The staff at The Old Vicarage were, as is so often at these homes, very kind, very welcoming, and very sad at Don’s passing. We chatted for quite some time before leaving them to get on with their daily duties.

The Knitting Club has a membership of about 25 ladies, although we have not restricted membership to just the one sex! It’s just happened that way. Not all the ladies have contributed squares to the blankets, but continue with their own projects on the Friday mornings that we meet at Cafe Oak. Not all ladies attend every Friday; it’s a very easy-going club. Not all ladies who come along know how to knit; it’s a worthwhile point to make, that these ladies now know how to knit.

Geddington village is one that has surprising qualities, none more so than when it helps communities, both in and outside the village.

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