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Always nice to get a positive review for one of my books and even better when it comes from another 'ex-pat' Burtonian!  Carol post...

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Chocolate bar gave inspiration for theme of Philip's new book


I'm delighted that the Derby Telegraph has been able to feature my new collection of 'nostalgedy' stories in today's edition.  You can find the online version here and below is the print edition.



This the content:

By Jane Goddard (13/12/17)

Readers who enjoy PhilipWhiteland's amusing monthly trips down memory lane in Bygones are in for a real treat.

For the Doveridge-based author has just published his fifth collection of stories, which consist of both 'nostalgedy' (Philip's own term for a mixture of nostalgia and comedy) and other observational pieces in which he takes a wry look at times past and present.

Every one of his previous books has had a theme and the structure for this one came, he tells me, while he was idly munching a chocolate bar.

He said "You know, that one which used to promise to help you work, rest and play?  Well, this book consists of Work, Play and the Rest."

In the section covering "work", Philip recalls joining the ranks of the employed at the beginning of the 1970s, firstly as an inept packer of plastics before moving to "a nice dry job with no heavy lifting" in a dark, satanic paper mill.

We learn about his struggles with punctuality, the difficulties of working in the darkness of the Three-Day-Week and why he had a real reason to be grateful for Ted Heath.

"Play" brings together an eclectic mix of tales of a boozy holiday in Franco's Majorca in the 1970s, a fleeting role in a "Look at Life" documentary, singer and entertainer Cilla Black, soap operas, an insight into the Cultural Quarter of Stoke-on-Trent and some tales from a trip to Australia.

Finally, "the Rest"shovels up everything that wouldn't fit into the first two.

This includes a tour around a pub in the 1960s, getting a brace fitted at the dentist's, difficulties with sanitary arrangements, why grass should be left alone, why shopping with your wife is an overrated pastime, a grumble about grammar and why it is absolutely fine to be a NIMBY.

And, with a return to the chocolate theme, not forgetting some "Mis-shapes" at the end.

All of this literary delight is wrapped up with the title article, "The Things You See..." which Philip assures is not for the faint-hearted!

"The Things You See..." by Philip Whiteland is only available as a Kindle e-book edition, priced at £1.99*  You can find the book at http://mybook.to/ThingsYouSee

*  Although this will be the regular price, the book is currently on offer at the introductory price of £1.49




Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Strange Kind of Union


November's Derby Telegraph article, hot off the press (if they have such things nowadays) tells of my brief flirtation with militancy ;-)

You can find the whole sordid story on the Derby Telegraph Bygones website here, or read on below:


and here's the unedited content:

Last month, I was writing about my minor act of rebellion in leaving the work’s radio on over and above the allotted hour, which was popular with the girls working in Harold Wesley Ltd. in the 1970s, but less so with the management.  Recalling this reminded me that I had actually been a little more rebellious than that, not that it actually got me anywhere.

The 1970s marked the height of trade union membership in the U.K., with over 13.2 million members in 1979 and a corresponding 29.5 million days lost to industrial disputes, whereas in 2009 there were just over 7 million members and just 455,000 days lost.  Industrial strife impacted on all of us at some point.  I’ve written before about the eerie quiet of the factory and the difficulty of trying to work by torchlight during the 3 day week in the winter of 1973-1974.  Not a T.V. news bulletin went by without the sight of masses of men, at some factory or other (usually in the motor industry) dutifully raising their hands to signify their readiness to walk out on strike.  Against this background, Wesley’s was something of an oddity in that it had no trade union presence, now or in its history.

I think the original Harold Wesley might have been something of an enlightened factory owner in his day.  Certainly, the ancient letterheads we still used showed the H.Q. in Harlesden surrounded by green fields and with happy employees playing healthy sports.  Whether it was like this, or had ever been, I couldn’t comment as I was never important enough to go down there, but the Burton paper mill had none of these advantages. 

For example, the catering provision for the shop-floor staff, when I first joined, was pretty dire indeed.  It consisted of a run-down ancient cottage in the grounds of the factory, filled with third-hand furniture and some dodgy, and distinctly unsanitary-looking kitchen equipment, including a stove on which a kettle was permanently boiling, filling the place with steam.  During my time there, we did move to proper vending machines for tea and coffee but that was about as good as it got.

It was hardly surprising, therefore, that a recent recruit to our warehousing staff was appalled at the low wages and poor provision for the workers and started to recruit as many as he could into joining his union, which was the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).    Inspired by this, I thought it was a shame that the management and clerical staff were going to be left behind and I tried to encourage a number of them to join the relatively new trade union, ASTMS (Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs) recently launched by Clive Jenkins, the charismatic Welsh trade unionist.  This was quite daring of me, really, because I felt sure that my days at Wesley’s would be numbered if it was ever found that I had been stirring up dissent in the ranks.  I think it even went as far as a representative of ASTMS coming down to the factory to talk to our M.D., but as they had no membership at that time, I think he was sent off with ‘a flea in his ear’.  Ultimately, although the various managers listened to me politely and quite agreed that our terms and conditions were pretty poor, no-one was willing to take the leap and join a union.


Things were different on the shop floor, however.  The warehouse bloke had been successful in getting a reasonable number to sign up to the TGWU and, inevitably, a District Official from that union came to talk to our M.D. about union representation.  It was at that point that our management obviously realised that they had to make some concessions, but they decreed that, whilst they were willing to recognise a trade union, it should be one appropriate to the industry, which is how we came to have the wonderfully named Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) with their titles for their branch officials of Father of the Chapel and Mother of the Chapel, which, when you think about it, was rather appropriate for a firm called Wesley’s!

You can find all of the stories leading up to this, plus a whole lot more, in the brand new bumper 'nostalgedy' collection 'The Things You See...' available now at the special introductory price of just £1.49.



Thursday, 16 November 2017

All I want for Christmas is...

...the two latest books by Philip Whiteland?

Well, why not?



























A Christmas Cracker  at the giveaway seasonal price of just 99p (or equivalent)

Are you ITCS yet? For those who don't know, we're talking about being In The Christmas Spirit here. Before you throw anything at your e-reader, just remember that this is a state of mind that advertisers and manufacturers try very hard to induce in you, and yet the answer is right here, in this little book. Being ‘In The Christmas Spirit’ is impossible to define. It’s a bit like love, you know it when you’re in it. Philip has gathered together a whole bunch of stories he's written about Christmases past and present, some factual, some fictional, over the years. 

Some of these, if you’re a regular reader of his ramblings (and we know there are some of you out there...we can hear you breathing) you may recognise from previous collections, although updates have been made where it was sensible to do so. Interspersed with these familiar stories are others that have never previously seen the light of day, including a story featuring Josiah and Archibald, the two fictitious undertakers, written specifically for this collection. We really hope that you get as much enjoyment from reading these stories as we've had gathering them, and that you're ITCS before you can say "Ho, ho, ho!"

What people have said about "A Christmas Cracker":

Francesca wrote: "What a brilliant read, especially during the 'run up' to Christmas - although there's much to be said for reading this at any time of year to get that lovely warm nostalgic Christmassy feeling!
If you are one of the 'baby-boomers' this book will especially have appeal. So much reminded me of my own childhood, that I laughed out loud with recognition.
A mix of whimsical, amusing stories, along with true events and tales from the author's childhood, A Christmas Cracker can't fail to entertain. Philip has great way with words, and I love his sense of humour.
Beware though: it's difficult to put down!
Recommended reading for curling up on the sofa with a nice glass of something warming..."


and Mrs. E.J. White said: "I'm ITCS now, due to the author's comedic touch and nice line in self-deprecating humour. A mixture of Christmas comment, short stories and true tales, I recommend it for winding down after the deccies are up, the cards are done and no more forays into large towns are needed. Goes really well with a nice cup of tea and a warm mince pie."

Whilst L.F. Falconer in Nevada suggested: "Ah, the musings of Christmas Past. The best way to spark up one's own memories is to hear another tell his, and Whiteland's whimsical exploits can do just that for the more mature among us who can easily relate to the nostalgic draw. I got such a kick out of the Smith's Christmas Letter it nearly makes me want to write one of my own! And my dark sense of humor left me delighted by the antics of Archibald.

A pleasant kick off to the holiday season!"

The Things You See (published 31st October, 2017) Introductory price of £1.49 (or equivalent)

Philip’s back with a fifth collection of stories, both ‘nostalgedy’(a mixture of nostalgia and comedy) and other observational pieces in which he takes a wry look at times past and present. 

Every book has to have a theme and the structure for this one came whilst he was idly munching a chocolate bar. You know that one which used to promise to help you work, rest and play? Well, this book consists of Work, Play and the Rest. 

In ‘Work’ Philip joins the ranks of the employed at the beginning of the 1970s, firstly as an inept packer of plastics before moving to ‘a nice dry job with no heavy lifting’ in a dark, satanic paper mill. We learn about his struggles with punctuality, the difficulties of working in the darkness of the 3-Day-Week and why he had a real reason to be grateful for Ted Heath.

‘Play’ brings tales of a boozy holiday in Franco’s Majorca in the 1970s, a fleeting role in a ‘Look at Life’ documentary, Cilla Black, Soap Operas, an insight into the Cultural Quarter of Stoke-on-Trent and some tales from a trip to Australia.

Finally, ‘the Rest’ shovels up everything that wouldn’t fit into the first two, including a tour around a pub in the 1960s, getting a brace fitted at the dentist’s, difficulties with sanitary arrangements, why grass should be left alone, why shopping with your wife is an overrated pastime, a grumble about grammar and why it is absolutely fine to be a NIMBY. All wrapped up with the Title article, which is not for the faint-hearted.

Come and join Philip in his Slightly Odd World, you won’t regret it!

What people have said about 'The Things You See...':

An Amazon Customer said:  "As usual Philip pushes those memory buttons long switched off. His humour makes it a local book that must be read. Off now to finish the last few pages."

and Jonty gave this warning: "I have read and enjoyed all of Philip Whiteland's books and this book was no exception. But a word of warning. Do not read this book in bed if you don't sleep alone. I got in big trouble because I was laughing so much I woke up my husband. He was not impressed. Especially watch out for the kick towards the end at the Post Office. I shall say no more, other than ENJOY!"

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Wreck Revisited


Back in February, 2013, I posted an excerpt from this article which originally appeared in my first book 'Steady Past Your Granny's'.  On reflection, I thought I had perhaps been a bit mean-spirited in only posting part of the article, so here's the rest of it.  New readers can catch up with the first part here - The Wreck Part 1 and read on from here:


The view from the ramp now

From your vantage point at the top of the ramp you might spot the telltale signs of a prospective football match.  Jackets or jumpers strewn about an area whilst a group of lads argued heatedly about the correct dimensions of their chosen area of competition.  I always hated football.  Not playing, of course, was not an option, even though I was useless.  You waited while the captains (who always seemed to be self-elected) chose their teams one-by-one from the assembled ranks.  I was usually the last to be chosen and, sometimes, an argument would break out between the captains as to who was to have the ultimate handicap of me on their team.  Eventually the game would begin.  Nowadays every child seems to be a budding professional and have a clear grasp of tactics and strategy.  In those days the favoured formation was the ‘flying wedge’.  This worked as follows.  The player with the ball (usually the captain, after all it was his ball) would set off down the field, dribbling the ball, with the rest of his team in hot pursuit behind him, in a sort of wedge shaped formation.  Those who had the least desire to actually come into contact with the ball (i.e. me) hurtled along at the back of this wedge, all strenuous effort and enthusiasm, without ever contributing anything to the game.  The worst scenario was if evening was beginning to fall and one of the parents came over to see where we were, and then decided to join in.  If my luck ran true to form, it would be my Dad, fresh from the pub and convinced of his own sporting prowess.  One or two of the most able of our group would attempt to tackle him and, sometimes, (having the advantage of sobriety) succeed.  I would try to blend into the background, consumed by embarrassment and ineptitude.

Alternatives to football, depending on the season, were cricket (proper or French if no-one had any equipment other than a tennis ball and a piece of wood), tick, illurky 1-2-3 (don’t ask, I can’t remember what it involved, although I think it was a variation of hide & seek), running, bike scrambles, sledging, go-karting (pram wheels and odd arrangements of scrap wood being the principal ingredients) and building forts/dens either from old tyres or hay (or both).  The tyres came from the scrap-yard.  Great, heavy lorry tyres retrieved at considerable risk from the haphazard piles of old cars, prams and other junk that constituted the scrap-heap.  We were always acutely aware that we could be caught at any moment and yet I can never recall seeing anyone working on the piles of scrap, nor, for that matter, can I remember seeing anyone bringing scrap to the yard or taking it away (other than us).  The tyres would be rolled under the bridge, over the ramp and onto “the wreck” to be formed into great, evil smelling, structures.  Hay was on-hand every summer when the Council had eventually given in to the inevitable and mowed the savannah, reducing the height of the grass from (what seemed like) six feet to a more manageable foot or so.  No-one ever came back to clear the mowings, so huge amounts of hay would be created (by the glorious sun that illuminated all our childhoods), which we would then gather together into towering mounds, just for the hell of it.

Another view of The Wreck as it is now 
(with the site of the Wagon Works in the distance)

I was always a little apprehensive about the Wagon Works.  This collection of buildings at the far end of “the wreck” always instilled a sense of foreboding.  Great clangs and bangs, shouts and oaths, issued from within but I never saw the labourers nor, for that matter, the product of their labours.  “The Wreck” was separated from the Wagon Works by a small brook that ran along that end of the field.  Expeditions were sometimes mounted down the steep banks of the brook to try to find anything that had the misfortune to live there.  This usually resulted in one or more of us getting very wet and muddy and typically involved an involuntary encounter with a patch of stinging nettles.

Finally, we would head homewards, the ball bouncing rhythmically on the pavement (sorry Cambridge Street!).  Just past the scrap yard was a concrete air-raid shelter that none of our group ever offered to investigate, perhaps the memory of its real purpose was still too fresh in the collective mind.  Then to Greenings shop on the corner, where the wealthy would dive in to buy chocolate, ice cream, Jubblys or Jungle Juice (frozen three-dimensional triangles of coloured water) and those with only a penny or two to spend would try their luck on the Beech Nut chewing gum machine, knowing that every fourth turn of the handle brought an extra pack and hoping that some fool with more money than sense would have left it just one turn away from that coveted prize!

I went back to “the wreck” the other day, consumed by a wave of nostalgia, and found a place of safety play surfaces and basket ball courts, landscaping and trees.  The old roundabouts and swings, having wreaked their havoc on the post-war generation, had obviously long since been taken out of service.  Of course, it all seems so much smaller now.  A walk around “the wreck” used to be a daunting proposition, now it’s a brief stroll. The scrap yard has gone, as has the air raid shelter, and the Beech Nut machine is an ancient memory.  The railway lines are still there, much less used and home to diesel fumes rather than steam and smoke.  The Wagon Works have given way to a housing estate. 

The entrance to “the wreck” is quite inviting now, with the greeting “Welcome” painted in large jolly letters in various languages on the bridge itself and landscaped grass banks replacing the piles of old cars.  The permanent flooding and potholes have gone, as have the toilets.  Not unsurprisingly, the stiles providing access to the railway lines have been replaced with high security wire mesh fencing.  I wonder if it is still a place of pilgrimage for train-spotters?  The brick built shed of uncertain purpose has gone, to be replaced by a car park.  Can you imagine any Councillor today trying to sell the idea of “the wreck” as it was?  “Well gentlemen, what I think we need is a patch of rough grass set aside for the kiddies.  We’ll stick it between those two railway lines, just behind the scrap heap.  Granted it’ll have a bit of heavy industry at one end and we’ll have to leave easy access to the lines for the railwaymen but folks should be grateful for what they get, that’s what I say.”  Probably not.

The path to the trainspotting spot

For all the landscaping and tree planting, the safety surfaces and security fencing, it is still recognisable as “the wreck” and I hope it still carves a place in the hearts (if not the foreheads) of todays young as much as it did when an extra pack of Beech Nut was the height of excitement.




By the way, the picture above shows the entrance to The Wreck as it is now.  The woman apparently holding a chicken on a piece of string is my wife, Hilary with our dog, Briar.

You can find this, and a whole lot more besides, in the first book of the 'nostalgedy' series:

for the ridiculously low price of just 99p!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

It's Halloween and it's out there!


Published today (31st October, 2017) and what better day for a book called "The Things You See..."?

Philip’s back with a fifth collection of stories, both ‘nostalgedy’(a mixture of nostalgia and comedy) and other observational pieces in which he takes a wry look at times past and present. 

Every book has to have a theme and the structure for this one came whilst he was idly munching a chocolate bar. You know that one which used to promise to help you work, rest and play? Well, this book consists of Work, Play and the Rest. 


In ‘Work’ Philip joins the ranks of the employed at the beginning of the 1970s, firstly as an inept packer of plastics before moving to ‘a nice dry job with no heavy lifting’ in a dark, satanic paper mill. We learn about his struggles with punctuality, the difficulties of working in the darkness of the 3-Day-Week and why he had a real reason to be grateful for Ted Heath.

‘Play’ brings tales of a boozy holiday in Franco’s Majorca in the 1970s, a fleeting role in a ‘Look at Life’ documentary, Cilla Black, Soap Operas, an insight into the Cultural Quarter of Stoke-on-Trent and some tales from a trip to Australia.

Finally, ‘the Rest’ shovels up everything that wouldn’t fit into the first two, including a tour around a pub in the 1960s*, getting a brace fitted at the dentist’s, difficulties with sanitary arrangements, why grass should be left alone, why shopping with your wife is an overrated pastime, a grumble about grammar and why it is absolutely fine to be a NIMBY. All wrapped up with the Title article, which is not for the faint-hearted.

Come and join Philip in his Slightly Odd World, you won’t regret it!


Buy it now for the introductory price of just £1.49!  You'll never believe "The Things You See..."

* includes a visit to the infamous attic rooms from 'And things that go bump in the night' as we discover just what is in the locked attic.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Making Waves on the Radio


This month's Derby Telegraph article in which I put the 'oik' into work!






This is the unedited version of the article:

I mentioned, in a previous article, that I now had a companion in my office in Harold Wesley's in the 1970s.  Actually, that makes it sound like I had an office to myself, which was never really the case.  I had been parked in the Work's Manager's office but that clearly wasn't a viable solution as I had to be turfed out every time he had a confidential meeting, which could be several times a day.  It did give me the opportunity to explore the building at length, which was fascinating but not really productive.

In a relatively short time, a couple of new offices were constructed next door to the Work's Manager's office (Work's Managers can get this sort of thing done).  I was to share the first one with A.N. Other and the second was for person or persons unknown. 

The A.N. Other turned out to be Gwen, who was something else.  Tall, beautiful and stylishly dressed she made me, in my 'nearly suit' and with my more or less permanent  hangover , feel like something of an 'oik', which probably wasn't a million miles away from the truth.  Fortunately she wasn't just a pretty face, she also had a wicked sense of humour, a quick wit and, wonder of wonders, she found me funny!  Beautiful women finding me funny was not a regular occurrence, so this was definitely a turn up for the books.

Gwen had clearly noted my 'oik' potential.  As she says in her memoir (Wednesday's Child) "The Transport Club in Guild Street…was where he mostly spent his evenings and often spent most of the night/morning sobering up".  To which I can only say, guilty as charged, although I had hoped it wasn't quite that obvious.  She goes on to say that the Work's Manager   "came into our office on occasions I guess to keep us on our toes particularly if he thought there was too much frivolity as he could hear us as our offices were only partitioned with glass".   Obviously, enjoying yourself at work is not something to be encouraged and it certainly wasn't in the dark ages of the 1970s.
 
Before long, we had another addition to our small office, Paul, an earnest young chap who was just starting on his career ladder as the Manager of the Wrapping Paper Dept.  For a time, this rather put a crimp on any frivolity but he did gradually thaw although I think he very definitely recognised my inherent 'oik'ness.  He was much closer to Gwen in age and was markedly more mature than me, although that wouldn't have been difficult.  He had a career and was just about to get married, I wouldn't have known a career if it had bitten me and I had only recently had my first girlfriend, a relationship so successful that, as Gwen recorded "I remember he came in one morning and said he woke up in a puddle".

It speaks volumes that Paul was responsible for a whole department whereas I had been given responsibility for the work's radio.  This was a minor nod toward staff welfare.  It was basically a car radio which had been wired into the firm's P.A. system and mounted on the wall of our office.  Management had decreed that the workforce were not to have too much of a good thing and that the radio was only to be on for one hour, twice a day.  This afforded them an hour of Johnny Walker in the morning and another of Noel Edmonds in the afternoon.    I always hated turning the radio off at the end of the hour because you could hear a factory-wide "Awww" go up every time.  It also seemed obvious to me that people trapped in a monotonous job, in fairly basic working conditions, were likely to be happier and work better if they had something to take their mind off it all.  Then again, what did I know?  So, I sometimes 'forgot' to turn off the radio until one or other of the managers rang up, or stormed in, to complain. 

It wasn't much of a rebellion, but it was popular on the shop-floor.


Philip's latest collection of stories "The Things You See…" will be published on 31st October and is available to pre-order now for just £1.49 at http://mybook.to/ThingsYouSee

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Things You See...


Delighted to say this new book in the 'nostalgedy' series is now available for pre-order, prior to the publication date of 31st October, 2017 (what other date could you have for something called 'The Things You See...'?)





The Things You See...

Here's the blurb:

Philip’s back with a fifth collection of stories, both ‘nostalgedy’(a mixture of nostalgia and comedy) and other observational pieces in which he takes a wry look at times past and present. 

Every book has to have a theme and the structure for this one came whilst he was idly munching a chocolate bar. You know that one which used to promise to help you work, rest and play? Well, this book consists of Work, Play and the Rest. 

In ‘Work’ Philip joins the ranks of the employed at the beginning of the 1970s, firstly as an inept packer of plastics before moving to ‘a nice dry job with no heavy lifting’ in a dark, satanic paper mill. We learn about his struggles with punctuality, the difficulties of working in the darkness of the 3-Day-Week and why he had a real reason to be grateful for Ted Heath.

‘Play’ brings tales of a boozy holiday in Franco’s Majorca in the 1970s, a fleeting role in a ‘Look at Life’ documentary, Cilla Black, Soap Operas, an insight into the Cultural Quarter of Stoke-on-Trent and some tales from a trip to Australia.

Finally, ‘the Rest’ shovels up everything that wouldn’t fit into the first two, including a tour around a pub in the 1960s, getting a brace fitted at the dentist’s, difficulties with sanitary arrangements, why grass should be left alone, why shopping with your wife is an overrated pastime, a grumble about grammar and why it is absolutely fine to be a NIMBY. All wrapped up with the Title article, which is not for the faint-hearted.

Come and join Philip in his Slightly Odd World, you won’t regret it!