The enormity of the Titanic legend guarantees that it will never die. People all over the world remain fascinated by the epic saga of the huge liner striking an Atlantic iceberg and sinking on her maiden voyage in 1912, resulting in the deaths of 1,513 of her 2,224 crew and passengers.

Great Yarmouth

The BBC-TV series Death in Paradise draws big audiences, attracted by its picturesque Caribbean island location and its quirky plots and characters. But a former Gorleston couple enjoying their little bit of sunny paradise were astonished to read about a real-life murder...back in their old home borough on the other side of the world!


If you happen to browse through the Guinness Book of Records, its pages are a cornucopia of information encompassing the bizarre and the mundane but all with a common denominator: a world-beating superlative fact or achievement.


Please read today’s column in silence, guaranteeing that any discussion is in whispered tones. That will create the atmosphere of Gorleston’s public library post-war when I was a child borrower, the obligatory hush ensuring that browsers, researchers, newspaper readers and the forbidding duty librarian were not disturbed by chatter.


Yes, I fully admit that it was all wishful thinking and idle speculation, and could never have become reality. But it slotted perfectly into the “if only” or “just suppose” category.

United Kingdom

There was a time, decades ago, when a policeman was almost part of the street furniture in Great Yarmouth’s town centre, his familiar presence hardly noticed as we shopped, strolled around the Market Place or hopped on and off Corporation buses outside Palmer’s department store or on Theatre Plain beside the Regal.


The start of a new year is the time to make resolutions we seldom keep or seek to build bridges to improve relationships. So permit me to examine building bridges - but in reality, not in an idiomatic context.


James Bond villain Auric Goldfinger furiously declared to 007: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

Trevor Nicholls

However much we enjoy Christmas, it does not always go to plan or come up to expectation. Sometimes it is memorable for all the wrong reasons: instead of being at home with family and friends, or in a hotel with no domestic chores to worry about, a “worst scenario” unfolds.

Charles Reynolds

Because schools break up today for the Christmas and New Year holiday, reopening on January 4, it is timely to look again at local private and state education of yesteryear, reflecting interest stemming from readers of previous columns on the topic.


Occasionally I mention here that my pen-name of Peggotty, taken from a character in a Charles Dickens novel centred on Yarmouth, was chosen in the Thirties when this column was launched in our companion newspaper, the Eastern Evening News. Another Dickens creation was Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser who abhorred Christmas.

To state here that I have paid many visits to Great Yarmouth’s police headquarters in Howard Street North is not a belated public confession of “helping them with their inquiries,” as the official line goes. It was part of a newspaper reporter’s regular routine to inquire about incidents and accidents, trivial and grave, that would interest our readers.

The significance of a first cannot be over-emphasised: first baby, first tooth, first day at school, first girl or boy friend, first job, first bike, motor-cycle or car... Of course, not all firsts are that significant, being more hum-drum and prosaic.


An In Memoriam family announcement with a difference was published in the Mercury last month, for it appeared on the centenary of the death of a soldier “serving in the front-line trenches and being gassed in France” in the First World War.

St Mary's Church

It is six decades since I left school, and months since the last of my grandchildren did so. Their education system and mine seemed poles apart and, frankly, I did not grasp their set-up and sympathise with parents who have to understand its complexities and choices or otherwise jeopardise their children’s long-term future.

Today being Armistice Day, when we commemorate those who gave their lives for their country in war, it is appropriate to dwell upon a tragedy that befell an unarmed vessel off our coast exactly a century ago. It links with my 
recent topic about attacks by German aircraft on unarmed lightships in the North Sea during the 1939-45 war.


The whistle blew, the green flag was waved and the steam train chuffed out of the station, carrying passengers to their destinations but simultaneously symbolising the huge effect the railways had upon the nation. But that’s history, long gone, and today east Norfolk has only a line to Norwich.


Today’s offering is one of the regular feed-back features from previous columns, plus some bits and bobs waiting to be aired. Clearing the decks is an apt nautical term because there is a salty taste with some items.

Trevor Nicholls

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, declared Shakespeare in his play Romeo and Juliet in 1597. Some 350 years later US songstress Kitty Kallen reminded us that “Little things mean a lot” – her 1954 hit record.

Trevor Nicholls

Home Thoughts from Abroad, the 1845 nostalgic poem by Robert Browning beginning with “Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there” probably still brings a tear to the eye of expatriates across the globe when they think about their native country.


Christmas fire drama off our coast

Friday, September 30, 2016

The old sea shanty about a “fire up aloft, fire down below” urged the crew to “fetch a bucket of water, boys.” Earlier verses reported fires breaking out in various parts of the ship. My seafaring father told me that a 
mariner’s greatest fear was a fire on board.

Always spell the surname right and get the initials correct! Nothing annoys people more than finding them wrong in the paper.

United States

An excited Mrs Peggotty rushed into the room, eager to show me what she had come across when browsing on her iPad. For there, on her screen, was a vintage Through the Porthole feature, signed as usual by Peggotty.


While preparing today’s column, I read that national glasses chain Specsavers is seeking to trademark “should’ve” and “shouldve” to protect its advertising slogan.

United Kingdom

Perhaps it is just imagination, but I am sure that you can still smell the smoke and burnt timber permeating various parts of Great Yarmouth, nearly three weeks after that hugely disastrous blaze which gutted the bowling alley and indoor market in Regent Road, our main artery between town centre and seafront holiday areas.


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