Childhood origin for my dislike of dogs

THERE'S a vicious rumour going round that I don't much like dogs.Well, it's true.

James Marston

THERE'S a vicious rumour going round that I don't much like dogs.

Well, it's true.

I was bitten by a nasty little dog in a small village called Worlington when I was young and growing up in the west of the county and I've never been keen to be honest.

I prefer cats which are cleaner and don't smell so much.

But for little Star - the focus of this year's Evening Star Christmas appeal- I've made an exception. She's a little darling.

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The other day while working, or at least trying to, in the Felixstowe office - I am there once a week or so - I experienced somewhat of a social whirl when I was visited by a number of fans including my oldest fan Noreen.

Noreen, who left school just before the outbreak of war and remembers me as a boy in short trousers, had been to a school reunion and was keen to look at a picture taken by one of my photographer colleagues.

Next through the door was my friend Suzie, 23, who's currently suffering with a bad throat and who popped in to say hello and spread a few germs. She's shortly celebrating her 24th birthday - just a few years younger than me, of course.

Suzie was followed by Penny, the lady who looks after Star, who's training to be a guide dog, and pretty Star herself.

Penny said Star hadn't been well and was eating a diet of chicken and rice to give her a little boost.

She said: “She's getting bigger. She responds to the whistle and knows how to sit. The stay command she's still learning but we're getting there.”

I told Penny, a dog lover, that I was a bit nervous around dogs.

Penny assured me Star wouldn't bite me as she was a bit sleepy and probably wouldn't like the taste of my hand. Also, apparently, she doesn't bark much only when indulging in over exciting play.

Of course, reassured and feeling brave, I managed to pick her up and say hello. She didn't say much to me but I think she enjoyed her moment with a human almost-celebrity.

My colleague Richard, who enjoys long walks in his spare time but doesn't have a dog because they are such a tie, caught the moment.

Penny informs me that Star is rather like me and enjoys treading the boards.

She said: “She's already started rehearing for her pantomime with the Brownies. She's got a walk-on part with Glenda the witch.”

I thought it was a bit of rude thing to say about poor Glenda but apparently she's not a real person but a character in the show.

By the time Star left and I'd waved goodbye to everyone it was time for a lazy luncheon, weight losing tasteless soup and a muffin, in my small salon with sea views (distant).

I never did get much done that day.


The aim is to raise £10,000 to help with the cost of Star's training - and we want the whole community to get involved with the appeal.

Every penny and pound will count and ensure that the little puppy gets the best care and training as she is prepared to do the job of guiding someone who lives every day of their lives with the blight of blindness.

If you are organising a fundraising event for the appeal, then we want to hear so we can give it maximum publicity and help boost the amount raised.

So let us know what you are up to - get in touch with Richard Cornwell at the Felixstowe Newsdesk on 01394 284109 or the Ipswich Newsdesk on 01473 324788.

To donate to the appeal, please send cheques - made payable to the Guide Dogs - to Richard Cornwell, Evening Star, 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, IP11 7DU.

What a mailbag it's been this week - e-mails, letters and one lady who stopped me in a street in the Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe and asked where my plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy was. I must be famous-ish.

Anyway, dear readers, I thought this week I'd share some of the things on a variety of subjects, some, to be honest, more complimentary than others, sent to me by my dear readers.

Dear James,

In response to your column regarding Welsh love spoons.

I write of two experiences concerning these lovely items.

The first being when my husband and I visited a wood carver in Saundersfoot, Wales, whilst on holiday a few years ago, he made them and some were very intricate. At the time we were not well off enough to afford one, as you may expect they took many hours to create so were very expensive.

More happily on July 19 this year our granddaughter married a lovely Welshman of whom we are very fond and love the Welsh very much in general.

Lovingly our daughter-in-law, as mother of the bride, placed miniature love spoons tied together with mini chocolate hearts as the ladies favours at the hotel reception meal. More in favour for the men, small appropriate beers fancifully decorated were placed for them.

Thought it might be interesting for you if not exactly the proper tradition, but your article was quite right about it.

Jean M Catchpole,

Orchard Place,

Wickham Market.

Dear Mr Marston,

In your piece in today's newspaper "It's never too late for a wordsmith to learn", you surmise that "sobersides" is a Suffolk word.

"Sobersides" is by no means exclusive to Suffolk.

Although not much used these days, it has sufficiently general use to merit an entry in most popular dictionaries. I am surprised you were not aware of it or its meaning.

Ian Hollands

Dear James,

'Getting the pip' is a very familiar expression to me.

I am now 70 years old, and when I was a schoolboy back in the forties and early fifties, my mother would chastise me for not wearing enough in the cold weather, and told me that I would 'get the pip' if I didn't wrap up warm. I instinctively knew what she meant.

Fairly obviously, it meant that I was liable to catch a cold or a chill. 'Getting the pip' was as normal an expression in my everyday young life as the well known 'On the Huh' which as all we Suffolk types know means a 'bit on the wonk'!! That's ok if you know what 'on the wonk' means!

Bernard Jasper (Ipswich born and bred).

Dear James,

HOW I agree with you, about the different things we used to have when we were children and I go back much further than you!

All the luxuries they have nowadays, I often wonder if it's really good for them, although it's a different generation now, and I suppose children have to know so much more if they are going to get on in life.

But I will say my father always used to say that I would get “the pip” if I didn't wrap up warm when I went out, what it ever meant I never asked him, but I always did what he said.

Mrs Betty Paternoster

Dear James,

I GREW up in a family who were always told by our old dad that we would get “the pip” if like Mr Southgate we out with wet hair or had not got hats, scarves etc on.

My family came from the Halesworth area so maybe it comes from out there. We were also told to put on a warm gansy (jumper) when we were young. My dad was in the First World War and used loads of funny words.

I come out with them now and again, my sons think I'm nuts.

Jill Reason,


- If you've got something you'd like to let me know about do drop me a line.