Jimmy Edwards' 90th birthday - Report by Rod Littlewood
Moustaches Away Whack-O! Weekend
Our usual intrepid reporter Andy Lear was busy Ghost Hunting
(We just hope he didn’t have a problem with his Ghoulies!)
The superb Griffin Inn, a highly superior country pub and hotel overlooking the Ouse Valley. Photo: David Dade
The superb GRIFFIN INN, Fletching

You may also enjoy this 5 min radio interview with Tom Cutler. Click on the small triangular play button in the player below to start.
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Our prestigious President, Rod Littlewood reports on the weekend's events:

The Evening Argus clipping

left quoteTOM CUTLER was doing some research about the Club and one of the founder members, Jimmy Edwards and he realised that March 23rd 2010 would have been Jimmy Edwards’ 90th birthday, so he thought it would be a good wheeze to mark the occasion somehow. Hence the Whack-O! Weekend.

For those of you not familiar with Jimmy’s history, Whack-O! was a comedy show that ran on British TV from 1956 to 1960, on the radio from May 1961 until July 1963, and then back on TV in colour from 1971 to 1972.

Click on Tom to watch the BBC report
Click on Tom to watch the BBC TV REPORT

As is normal for Handlebar Club weekends we were scheduled to arrive during Friday afternoon, with the dipsomaniacs arriving around lunchtime. I had a call from BBC South East during the morning asking what time I’d arrive as they wanted to do a feature on the evening news and needed some members to appear - I later found out that Tom refused to be an unpaid BBC researcher and told them to ring round themselves! (Which they did! Ed.)

Lewis, Rocky and Bill over the yardarm

I couldn’t make it in time for the BBC cameras, but after a wonderful drive through the Surrey and Sussex countryside, I arrived at the Griffin Inn in Fletching around 6 pm - the sun just being over the yardarm, it was time to try a pint or two of Harveys. Judging by the others present I think the sun must have risen over the yardarm somewhat earlier!!

A meal and several yardarms later

An excellent meal in the bar accompanied by another pint of Harveys followed. Our esteemed Treasurer went up to his room to check out the plumbing (he arrived before lunch so he had plenty of time to do this during the afternoon!). Whilst he was doing so, an androgynous female sent her male companion to ask if the chair was taken. Our organiser replied in the affirmative and thought no more about it. Unfortunately there must have been a serious problem as Alex didn’t return or maybe he just fell asleep!! A couple of hours later our unknown androgen descended on Tom, screaming like a banshee that the seat had remained unused and that she could have used it. As is typical in these sorts of situation she stalked away before anyone could comment, feeling better I’m sure - oh well, little things…..!!!

The following morning saw us all arise to a wonderful breakfast and immediate adjournment to the churchyard over the road to gather around the ‘Professor’s’ grave. A bottle of fizz was opened to toast Jimmy, with Tom being the Master of Ceremonies. Tom’s toast was extremely apt for the occasion:

Tom pours the fizz
The company toasts the 'Professor'
When we drink, we get drunk
When we get drunk, we fall asleep
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin
When we commit no sin, we go to Heaven
So - let’s all get drunk and go to Heaven!

Sheffield Park
The next venue was a visit to the local National Trust gardens at Sheffield Park. A lovely stroll around the magnificent gardens, although somewhat wet - the weather was not really on our side. The National Trust had a free day so a bonus for all! Needless to say the Handlebar Club made a modest donation.

We then moved on to The Royal Oak in another lovely village Newick, for lunch. It’s a good job Tom had got it all sorted as we virtually filled the pub. We were joined there by two of Jimmy’s nephews, Roy and Tim and their partners. After a really good ‘pub’ lunch we then made our way to the Bluebell Railway where the heavens opened...

Checking the exposure?At the Engine ShedSteve thinks about his next pintRocky and Rod

After a look round the engine sheds, a visit to the shop and the small pub/café on the station, we set off on the steam train to Horsted Keynes. The sounds and smell of bygone travel were a joy to behold. At the end of our journey it was time to return to the Griffin Inn to meet up with Jimmy’s family again.

We had a private room for our ‘Posthumous Birthday Party’ and Jimmy’s nephews, twin brothers Roy and Jim Pennington and their partners Katie and Net had brought along some of their archives and photos for us to see. We presented the family with one of the new Handlebar Club shields to add to their collection.

Rod presents the Handlebar Club Shield to JimMembers and Relatives with the ShieldThe birthday cake created from the cover of Jimmy's Book

After another fine meal and ‘couple’ more drinks the official weekend drew to its close.

http://www.ukattraction.com/south-east-england/ The next morning we said our goodbyes and I went off to find Pooh’s Bridge in Ashdown Forest but that’s another story...

Thanks to Tom Cutler for organising an absolutely spiffing weekend.quotes
Rod Littlewood

Here are some more pictures taken during the weekend.
Click on the thumbnails for the full size image, or play as a SLIDESHOW.

Steve affectsTwo Johns on the trainMembers shelter under the Redwood TreeJohn RichardsonLewis behind a pintRocky RockliffeAlex McBrideChris Ward
The headstone at Jimmy Edwards' graveThe Rev MackieTony explainsTony and RoyJohn talks to Jimmy's relativesRod with JimLewis with Jimmy's relatives (David and John in background)

Text © MMX Rod Littlewood / The Handlebar Club - Photos © MMX Rod Littlewood, Tom and Marianne Cutler, David Dade