Gary Ranson sports the shorts he wears these days while driving a train on the Portsmouth-Waterloo line.
THE VIEW FROM HERE OOH, I’m all of a glow this week. I feel much as Howard Carter must have done when he discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb or the BBC on being reunited with the tapes of two long-lost episodes of Dad’s Army.
Following this year’s carnival furore over men on floats, I referred in this column to the boy in the lederhosen who had appeared in the Ryde queens’ tableau in the early 90s.
"Where is that young man now?" I mused, with little hope of a reply. Most schoolboys, having had to don lederhosen and trundle round the streets with a bunch of primped-up girlies, would have spent the rest of their lives hiding from society, possibly under a pillow or in an institution for the severely traumatised, terrified of exposure by the press.
However, I am delighted to tell you that Mr Gary Ranson, of Binstead, has stepped forward to reveal himself as the boy in the lederhosen and even more pleased to say he seems quite unaffected by an experience which could have caused permanent distress to a less robust adolescent.
Now 35, and married with a baby daughter, Gary looks back on his appearance on the Tyrolean-themed Ryde queens’ float with positive affection. He was 14 at the time and must have looked quite delightful in his lederhosen.
"And I had a green felt hat with a white feather." Oh, I can just picture it. Sounds fabulous. Anything else?
"I had a big horn." Mmm, well, that’s nice, Gary.
Being made of stern stuff, Gary was impervious to any rude mocking of his star performance.
"I got a bit of stick afterwards from my mates at Ryde High School. And during the procession, I remember a lot of coins being chucked at me and bouncing off my white socks."
But Gary had the right attitude and entered wholeheartedly into the carnival atmosphere. His mum and dad, Colin and Jan Ranson, were keen fundraisers for Ryde Carnival and Gary was already an old hand at joining in the fun by the time he popped on his lederhosen.
Indeed, it was not his first appearance on the Ryde queens’ float. The year before, when the theme was My Fair Lady, he had been tricked out in top hat and tails.
It seemed to have been better than any dating agency. "I met some very lovely girls and had great fun," he says.
He finds this year’s controversy quite absurd. "I was, like the yeomen this year, just decoration. We weren’t playing the part of the King." Sadly, Gary no longer has his lederhosen. But he’s a train driver on the Portsmouth-Waterloo line (some kids get all the luck, don’t they, meeting pretty girls on floats and then growing up to drive a real chuff-chuff) and he is at present allowed to wear shorts at work.
"They’re like hot pants," he says. Really, Gary, you spoil us. However, the rail authorities are soon to ban their drivers from wearing shorts, so if you missed the lederhosen and want to see Gary’s legs for one last time, get down to the station right now.
Less is more doesn’t inspire confidence in health reshuffle
HOW very worrying to find Jeremy Hunt in charge of our health following Cameron’s cabinet changes.
One must try to discount the fact he looks about 12 and has a silly haircut. With a big effort, we might forget his open friendliness towards Rupert Murdoch when they met at the Olympics and the question mark hanging over his previous close contacts with the media mogul’s empire.
But nothing can excuse his endorsement of homeopathy. In 2007, he supported an early-day motion praising the "positive contribution" homeopathic hospitals made to the NHS.
In fact, homeopathy makes no positive contribution whatsoever beyond a placebo effect, which may work on people who believe their ills will be cured by a substance diluted to the extent where one molecule alone would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the earth.
Michael Baum, a leading professor at University College, London, describes homeopathy as "a cruel deception". And Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at Exeter University, says: "To praise the positive contribution of homeopathy to the NHS does not bode well for the new person in charge of UK healthcare."
Still, let’s try to look on the bright side, despite being landed with a man who believes in this twaddle.
Kane Gorny was the patient whose severe dehydration contributed to his death in an NHS hospital after nurses ignored his desperate pleas for a glass of water. If Hunt pursues his batty ideas on homeopathy, you might not be given the medical treatment you need but at least you’ll get a glass of water. No probs. Nothing in it at all.