We southerners aren’t that stupid

THE maxim which declares that flattery will get you anywhere has a measure of truth about it but it can be overdone. I thought that the other day when a letter with an incomplete address arrived at The Comet. It was from a lady up north in Yorkshire who c

THE maxim which declares that flattery will get you anywhere has a measure of truth about it but it can be overdone.

I thought that the other day when a letter with an incomplete address arrived at The Comet.

It was from a lady up north in Yorkshire who claimed to be "very proud of Stevenage".

To be so admiring of the town, she must know it, I reasoned.


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This seemed to be confirmed when she went on: "It's a beautiful town.

"Its residents are kind and friendly." Many of them are, I agree, but not all (evidence Stevenage Leisure Park on a Saturday night).

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But I begin to suspect that the lady writer may not be basing all she says on fact when she continues: "Stevenage Town Hall (didn't know it had one by that name) is a spectacular building of architectural triumph and amazement!"

If she really thinks that is an apt description of the boring if not ugly 1960s built steel and glass Daneshill House then I reckon she needs to see an optician.

There's no stopping her now as she enthuses: "Stevenage has lots of great shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and taverns. It's rich in history (only since 1946 for much of the place, actually), there's loads to see and do (tell that to the kids hanging around on the streets) and it's a smashing place to visit." (Has she ever, I wonder).

She begins to get round to what she wants when she states that the singer Marty Wilde comes from Stevenage and his real name is Reg Smith.

The name is right but Reg/Marty never lived in Stevenage. He was born in London and after becoming a 50s/60s rock and roll star and gaining the trappings of fame he moved to Tewin where he still resides. Maybe he occasionally goes shopping in Stevenage but usually the nearest he gets to the place is Knebworth Golf Club where he has long been a member.

After mentioning other singers and composers who have nothing to do with Stevenage, the lady finally gets to the point: she is on the lookout for music in several formats plus original "authentic" signed photos and recordings, ephemera and memorabilia from a bygone musical age "in good clean condition" (a phrase often used by those who trade in them). Such items could be worth a fair bit of money but she is quite clear that she is not prepared to pay but wants people to donate them to her.

Come off it, love, we're not as soft as some may think north of Sheffield.

Perhaps she thinks she has a way with words which are, of course, my stock in trade.

And for that reason I was interested in some research conducted by Reading University scientists.

They identified some of the oldest words in the English and other Indo-European languages.

Dating back thousands of years were "I", "we", "two" and "three". What they didn't mention but I spotted straight away was that they could also have come across the earliest known poem.

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