THIS ISLAND LIFE
SINCE these strange markings appeared on the pavement outside our house about three months ago, they have become the subject of much speculation among family and friends.
Where did they come from? What do they mean? Who put them there?
My first thought was a couple of yobs had decided to have a game of noughts crosses with spray cans and then abandoned it halfway through, having forgotten the rules.
But friends have been offering their own theories, most of which have been varieties on the theme of conspiracy.
The Illuminati have been mentioned, as have visitors from another world, while several have mentioned the resemblance to cave drawings carried out by prehistoric man thousands of years ago.
Malc Lawrence took one look at the highway hieroglyphics and immediately attributed them to a mysterious code said to be used by tinkers, peripatetic hucksters and other ne’er-do-wells over the years.
"They’re a crafty lot, your tinkers, your peripatetic hucksters and your ne’er-do-wells," he said, tapping the side of his nose sagely.
"They leave secret messages for each other outside homes. These are intended to indicate whether bothering the householder is likely to be a financially worthwhile exercise.
"For example, in tinkerese, those markings could mean 'soft old sod lives here, who will let you tarmac his front-room if you offer him an attractive enough price.’
"Or, in your case, it probably says 'grumpy old git lives here, who has two loud dogs and will start talking at length about cricket as soon as you set foot inside the gate — avoid at all costs’."
Oddly unconvinced, I ventured the opinion the strange symbols may possibly have been made by the council highways department and once decoded probably read: "Liable to melt if we get the wrong sort of heat this summer."
Malcolm ruminated on the possibility, and we wandered outside for another look.
"An interesting theory, Watson," he said, "but it can’t be anything to do with the highways department because their marks are intended to be acted upon.
"Those have been there so long they will barely be decipherable in a few weeks’ time.
"And look, there’s a huge crevasse right across the pavement. If it was someone from the council indicating where repairs were needed, surely they would have noticed that?"
Woke up one morning, needing to learn a tune
The mention of those listening cubicles in Teagues music shop, at Union Street, Ryde, in the Sixties brought forth plenty of memories.
While most of us bobbed around inside to test-drive records we knew we were going to buy anyway, it appears others had more nefarious motives.
Take the members of the Monkton Mead Blues Band, for example, who were regulars at the old Brook House club in Binstead and prided themselves on their topical output.
This meant spending all day Saturday mastering the latest releases, so they could play them for the faithful in the evening.
Money was tight, so the three of them used to pop into Teagues to secretly tape the requisite tunes before nipping home to perfect them.
My thanks to Mick Price and his wife, Jo, for fessing up (let no-one say I’m not down with the kids) and also sending this photograph.
It shows (from left to right) Loris Valvona, Mick and Brian Wills — aka The Monkton Mead Blues Band — in their prime.
Where was the Puckpool Park swimming gala held in the Thirties?
I have a question which I’m sure will be pounced upon by local history buffs from Ryde and answered in no time.
Was there ever a swimming pool at Puckpool Park?
The question has been raised by Anne Grant, who has happened upon a photograph of teachers and pupils from Clarence Square School, Gosport, complete with a set of trophies, including one called "The Puckpool Park IW Swimming Cup, 1931-32".
Anne recalls having swimming lessons in the pool at the nearby St Clare Holiday Camp, Puckpool, in the Fifties and I remember trying to have an occasional illicit dip there myself during school holidays.
My old chap had told me the security guards on the gate were there to prevent holidaymakers from escaping, not to stop undesirables getting in to avail themselves of the facilities. It didn’t take long to discover he was having a laugh … But back to the matter in hand.
Anne wants to know the possible location of the pool used for the Puckpool Park swimming gala in the Thirties — and wonders whether Ryde Canoe Lake may have been used?