After attending Nobby’s ‘going outside run’, Shiner’s 50th birthday party and Bungy’s promotion ‘do’ and seeing the same people travel from miles around to attend, it was the general feeling that the same lot would probably attend a Bombheads Reunion.
So, in 1989 with the aid of a few Christmas card lists and seventeen quids worth of postage stamps, the word was put around.
The buzz spread rapidly, and we asked for donations of stamps to spread the cost of circulation. We were helped by the Sunday Express, Oracle Teletext, Radio 2, local radio and newspapers, but most of all by the good old Navy News. So advertising never cost a bean. It’s just as well, as the next request was for donations of ‘whatever you can afford’ to publish the first newsletter and the nominal roll. I kept the not too generous resulting donations in an egg cup until there was enough to open an account.
To decide the location of our first reunion in March 1990, a helper stuck a pin in the centre of a map of UK. We later agreed that Ashby-de-la-Zouch probably wasn’t ready for us just yet, so Coventry was decided upon as being central for motorways, puffer-trains and charabancs.
They came from Penzance, they came from Lossiemouth and all stations in between, they were old, they were very old and they were ‘Gor Blimey who’d have thought he’d still be alive and kicking’.
Amongst them were Police, Prison and Fire Officers of all ranks, a Foreign Legionnaire, a Mayor, an artist a Town crier, someone who burns old banknotes, a bloke who breeds racing tadpoles and a very famous, part-time Lancashire sausage knotter and black pudding sculptor.
The hotel was a 4 star conference centre chosen for its size, quality and discounts. The lights were neither too low to strain deteriorating eyesight nor too bright to reflect from barren heads. The music was at a sensible level, so’s not to interfere with the swapping of yarns and the swinging of the odd lamp.
The hotel liquor manager was delighted to have us there, the bar staff became very tired, they asked which company we represented, or what we had in common. (You can imagine the straightforward answers they were offered).
At first it was not fully appreciated that we were in ‘proper’ beer country, this was pointed out when the southern contingent returned their beer for having a sort of frothy stuff on top.
Until the name badges were issued, the bar was filled with strange men looking into each others faces trying to imagine what each other looked like with more hair, less belly and their own teeth. It was a very odd feeling being surrounded by all of my heroes. I never actually saw a tear shed, but there were many distorted voices, lots of hugs and much pumping up and down of hands. – and here’s me thinking that they were all roughie-toughies.
Tot time was not the worry I expected it to be, for the simple fact that there were lots of volunteers to issue it. The rum itself was guarded like a couple of two-thousand pounders. the difficult decision was choosing someone to actually collect it; which was finally decided by there only being one amongst us who could be relied on to say please, and thank you and look both ways before crossing the road.
The morning after saw the inaugural meeting of the Armourers Association. So, be you steam-driven, electrified or redundant, regardless of age, rank or length of service we all have one thing in common, we were special and proud of it.
The aim of our association is to recreate and preserve the values and comradeship we all enjoyed.
You may have no desire to travel to a reunion, but you might wish to be in contact with your old oppos.
Founder and Life President