Updated: Jun 26
I have ceased to be surprised when little bits of my past, quite often little, forgotten, bits of my past, pop up in this inter-connected, internet world in which we live.
Not so long ago three monochrome pictures appeared in a Facebook group of which I'm a member and stirred the memory. A flying Ford Anglia 105E deluxe, many years before Arthur Weasley and his spells.
Suffolk Road and its continuation into Stafford Road offered the so-called back road, or bumpy road, between Gorleston and Great Yarmouth. It avoided the use of Southtown Road, which at the time was the A12. Its surface was full of humps and bumps which, to this six-year-old, made it feel as if the car were flying at times. This car was navy blue, rather than the Weasley's pale blue version, and was one of a couple of Anglias that my father drove in the early 1960s.
One of the pubs we'd pass as we humped and bumped our way into Yarmouth was the Gordon Arms. Sitting on the corner of Stafford and Gordon Roads in Southtown, it was built in 1907 by brewers Steward & Patteson to serve the residents of the Lichfield estate. It wasn't just the memories of those fairground rides into town that were stirred by the sight of those pictures but also those of meeting a former school friend, who lived close to the pub, for the occasional drink there in the late '70s.
Quite often our cycle rides to or from school would coincide. I used to wonder how she could pedal in that skirt and retain any degree of decency. We sat next to each other through two years of French lessons and despite 100% application we both struggled to get a grip of the subjunctive. She left to get a job and I continued with my studies. Quite how our paths converged again seven years later I fail to remember exactly. Possibly it was when I visited either the Gordon or the nearby Anson Arms (now also closed) for an away darts match, although I do have some vague notion of once having popped into the Anson with a workmate and finding her in there. However it happened we met up occasionally in the Gordon and the Anson. Not frequently or regularly - just occasionally. There was no romantic intent, at least not on my part and I'd have been very surprised, not to say somewhat flattered, if there had been any on hers. It was simply that we were both in the same boat in that all of our respective friends had moved away and we used to reminisce and talk about the change in direction that each of our lives was about to take. I was shortly going to Cambridge to embark on some postgraduate studies and she was heading north. Hull or the Grimsby area seems to come to mind, although I could be wildly wrong on that front.
At the time the Gordon Arms was owned by Watney Mann and being run by Roy and Hazel Goff. I'm pretty certain that, fortunately, you could no longer get a pint of Red, with most folks going for one of their Norwich Brewery brews - mild, bitter or a pint of twos. That's mild and bitter for those of you not from these parts - you furriners. Yarmouth was, in those days, pretty much a decent beer desert.
So, I moved to Cambridge. My friend, possibly, moved to Humberside. What became of Hazel, Roy and the Gordon? In the spring of 1979 the Goffs moved to take on the Admiral Seymour, now yet another bygone boozer, and the Gordon Arms closed five years later. It has since been converted for residential use.
Once stirred, more memories surface from some deep recess of my hippocampus or wherever it is that they're stored. Filed away for almost half a century. Je veux que tu ailles à la banque. Il est important que tu fasses tes devoirs. Je veux que vous fassiez la vaisselle. The subjunctive. Total concentration. 100% application. How long until break? That skirt. Those legs...!
Thanks to Andy Goff for the mid-1970s black and white shots of the pub and his parents.
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