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Online mardling revealing a host of fresh memories

PUBLISHED: 15:42 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:42 06 November 2015

MEMORABLE YEAR: in 1957 Yarmouth couple Danny and Marjorie Daniels emigrated to Canada, where they still live. That summer star comedian Benny Hill, bill-topping at the Wellington Pier Pavilion, courageously became the official starter at a pedal-car Derby on the sea-front.
Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY

MEMORABLE YEAR: in 1957 Yarmouth couple Danny and Marjorie Daniels emigrated to Canada, where they still live. That summer star comedian Benny Hill, bill-topping at the Wellington Pier Pavilion, courageously became the official starter at a pedal-car Derby on the sea-front. Picture: MERCURY LIBRARY

Archant

FOR many a decade folk from the Mercury’s circulation area who had moved to other parts of the country or the world had to rely on relatives and friends enduring the weekly chore and expense of wrapping and posting each Friday’s rolled-up copy to them so they could keep in touch with news from their old home town.

TWINKLING TOES: Danny and Marjorie Daniels, expanding their repertoire by taking up tap-dancing in their 80s.
Picture: SUBMITTEDTWINKLING TOES: Danny and Marjorie Daniels, expanding their repertoire by taking up tap-dancing in their 80s. Picture: SUBMITTED

But the onset of the computer revolution benefited them because for at least ten years they have been able to log on to the Mercury website and read the contents of each issue.

Some of the readers contributing to this column are expatriates living abroad, or born-and-bred East Norfolk people who have gravitated to other parts of the country.

Probably living the farthest away from their old haunts are regular on-line readers and contributors Danny and Marjorie Daniels, octogenarians who emigrated to Canada as far back as 1957.

He came from Southtown, while Marjorie (née Gillings), daughter of a railway engine driver, lived in Lime Kiln Walk, between North Quay and the river in Yarmouth – a location mentioned here recently when I wrote about 14-year-old soldier Private George Carr who left his home in neighbouring Bowling Green Walk to fight overseas in the bloody Gallipoli campaign in the 1914-18 war.

STILL HURDLING: Danny Daniels competing at a veterans’ athletes meeting in Canada.
Picture: SUBMITTEDSTILL HURDLING: Danny Daniels competing at a veterans’ athletes meeting in Canada. Picture: SUBMITTED

They e-mail me with their razor-sharp recollections of faces and places in the borough they remember from their youth, embellished with their anecdotes, comments and feed-back.

Our relationship had begun before the Mercury went on-line. In 1994 Danny telephoned me, not from their home nearly 5000 miles away on Vancouver Island but from...Gorleston, where he and Marjorie were on holiday, staying with his sister, Mrs Barbara McNeven, in Edinburgh Avenue!

What prompted that initial call? EX10!

That is the index plate on the 1900 Daimler car regularly participating in the annual London to Brighton rally, the oldest surviving licence number from the time when Great Yarmouth was allocated its inaugural EX registration series. EX10 was listed as an entrant in last Sunday’s rally, being driven by owner John Worth.

Danny’s 1994 call was to tell me that he had licensed his 1986 Jeep Cherokee in Canada as EX10 in homage to his old home town’s series - “EX10 is alive and well in British Columbia,” he assured me.

Surviving EX vehicles – like two appearing in television favourite Downton Abbey - occasionally feature in this column.

In the intervening two decades the Daniels’ doings, and their observations on Yarmouth and even Norwich City’s football results, arrive regularly by e-mail, often being relayed on this page. But now our relationship has taken a new course, for they paid a fleeting visit to the borough last month during a holiday in the UK and we met, face to face, for the first time.

Emails have proved such a boon that it is impossible now to recall how people managed without them, but a leisurely good old mardle over a meal table took some beating. We covered a hundred-and-one topics chiefly concerning their old home town and changes they had noticed during their brief return.

Mrs Peggotty and I met Danny and Marjorie for Sunday evening dinner at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, with reminiscences the dish of the day at the top of our menu. We could probably have nattered into the small hours, but all good things had to end and we said our farewells.

When Danny and I were both pupils at Great Yarmouth Grammar School just after the war, he was a sixth-former and a prefect while I was a humble new boy in my first year, having passed the 1946 scholarship examination at Stradbroke Road Junior School in Gorleston. During the war he had been evacuated to Retford in Nottinghamshire, in company with hundreds of other pupil from our borough.

Neither of us remembered the other from those GYGS days.

The day after our meal the Daniels went to visit an old friend in Caister, Julian Macey, a talented water-colourist and miniaturist who, in his mid-nineties, is president of the Great Yarmouth and District Society of Artists. Marjorie remembered him fondly from her membership of the Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre in Gorleston which he ran successfully for many post-war years.

The couple lead a full life back in Canada, one of the most recent additions to their repertoire being tap-dancing, augmenting their involvement in amateur theatricals and his concert singing.

Both still enjoy athletics, particularly Danny who was recently inducted into the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in recognition of his life-time achievements, coaching, organisational qualities and administration which have brought him international renown and respect, and travel around the world..

He holds numerous Canadian Masters Age Group records and, at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, was placed first in the 80-84 age category. His distances range from super-marathons to short sprints and hurdles, and he is also a thrower.

Professionally, he was an acclaimed senior civil servant and educator, working in Canada and Africa.

By complete coincidence, twice in the space of three days I met correspondents whom I had never seen in person. On the Thursday before we dined with Danny and Marjorie Daniels, Mrs Peggotty and I had coffee in Palmers’ Restaurant in Yarmouth with Derbyshire couple Brian and Moira Hitchcock who were visiting friends in Yarmouth.

Just after the war, schoolgirl Moira Hall’s parents and sisters moved from Derby to Yarmouth and established the Britwell Guest House on Nelson Road Central.

To illustrate a July column reflecting on holiday trends and patterns hereabouts in that late-1940s era, I published pictures of the family and their B&B enterprise I found in our Mercury photographic archive.

When she learned about my feature and those family pictures, Moira sent me a copy of the Halls’ history she had penned, and in September I based a column on it.

Moira and Brian told me they planned to spend a few days in Yarmouth, so the four of us took the opportunity to meet up over coffee...and another lively mardle as we figuratively took a trip down Memory Lane.

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