Brooklyn Bridge


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Billy Preston shuffled forwards leaning heavily on his stick. He shrugged off the hands of those by his side and took a deep breath. This was one objective he was going to achieve on his own. The mood of the onlookers was quiet and reflective and the restrained tones of a brass band floated through the air.

Not for Billy. He was hearing the jangly notes of a piano thumping away, the wheezing of a discordant squeezebox and the frenetic plucking of a ukulele. He was watching Jonny Ross, Eric Evans and young Harry Smythe playing their instruments for all they were worth. The smoke filled room was alive with laughter and noise, the singing and dancing of young men and women in uniform crammed into the back bar of the Druid’s Staff. It’s what they always did; afterwards.

The sparkle of moonlight on water caught his eye and then he saw the river spooling across the unfamiliar wooded countryside like a giant silver ribbon and growing broader by the minute. They called nights like tonight a ‘bomber’s moon’, where world beneath was bestowed with an ethereal quality. In the cockpit Billy shivered and glanced at the displays on his dials. Not far to the bridge now.

He was almost there. A few more steps to the cold grey granite plinth of the memorial and the growing sea of red washing against its base. Billy knew the names were there, etched in the stone for all to see. He wanted to trace the letters with his fingers, but now was not the right moment.

Billy adjusted the levers to throttle back and lose altitude. The bridge was looming larger. He knew all hell would break loose and they would be shown no mercy from those below.

He remembered walking along the corridor and his flying boots squeaking on the floor wax.

“I’ve chosen you, Preston, and your boys for this mission. I don’t need to tell you how important it is. The bridge must be destroyed. Good luck.”

Billy smiled as he stooped to deliver his poppy wreath. They were all boys. Most of them were still boys. Only he had grown up. He straightened up, stood to attention and snapped a salute. The music in his head faltered, Eric Evans and Harry Smythe lowered their instruments and returned his salute. Jonny Ross just sat there fingers poised over the piano keys. Then he turned to face him, smiled and arched a quizzical eyebrow before slowly closing the lid. Tears welled and trickled down Billy’s cheeks. A hand gripped his elbow to steady him.

Giant ink spots began to pattern the sky, ugly pools of black pock marking the startled face of the moon. The plane began to pitch and yaw, tugging against the controls. They had been spotted. Billy pushed the throttles to the stops and dived lower. The bridge loomed out of the night swathed in a shroud of exploding smudges. He flew straight and true, ignoring the rocking and buffeting, shutting out the screams of the engines and the sounds from the night.  Steel girders and metal rivets filled his view and promptly vanished as the plane soared aloft, suddenly unshackled from its heavy burden. A massive explosion rent the air followed by whoops and applause. Then another, this time closer; and Billy Preston’s war ended.

The hand on Billy’s elbow tightened and a voice choking with emotion stuttered, “Billy Preston. After all this time. Billy Preston. You came through.”

Billy turned. The voice belonged to Jonny Ross. “I thought you were…” His voice trailed off.

“Me too,” came the reply. “Well are you just going to stand there? It must be your round by now. Come on, Billy, we’ve got some catching up to do.”



At the going down of the sun and in the morning.

We will remember them.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller

Steamy nights

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We were standing on the platform at York station the other evening waiting for a local train when all of a sudden there was steam in the air and the night became alive….

LMS Jubilee Class 5699 Galatea.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller

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How many times have you thought it or even said it when asked by someone else for an opinion and replied, “That’s a good idea”. And then much later, with the benefit of hindsight or the turn of events, thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. Yes, we have all been there; only some more so than others!

“That’s a good idea” was this week’s theme for a story for my Writing Group only I couldn’t come up with a good idea for a story. I did, however, come up with a few ideas that others had come up with (some of them good and a few that proved to be not quite so good!)

This is just a brief selection and I’m sure you can think of many more. Unfortunately there’s no prize for guessing who may have uttered those immortal words, “that’s a good idea”….


White Star Line announcing they were going to build an unsinkable ship.

The Italian architect before he realised he was constructing a bell tower on soft ground.

An editor who sacked Walt Disney saying he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.

The US Cavalry officer who decided to attack 2,000 angry Indians with only a force of 210 men having left his artillery behind at the fort.

Thinking you could invade Russia before the weather turns.

Plotting to assassinating an arch duke.

Constructing what you thought to be an impregnable defensive wall on your eastern border, only to see your enemy go around it.

The American chemist, Spencer Silver, who failed to make his new adhesive glue strong enough and caused a stationery revolution.

The cost conscious Kellogg brothers who rather than throw away a cooking pot of stale wheat baked it and put it through some rollers.

The 1,009 times Colonel Sanders secret chicken recipe was rejected.

The theory and concepts of Communism, Democracy and Quantum Physics.

The Scottish biologist who was so keen to get away on his holidays he left his dirty petri dishes in the  sink.

The unknown Chinese cook who mixed together charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre and accidently blew up his kitchen.

The customer in a restaurant who kept sending his potatoes back to the kitchen saying they were too thick and not fried enough. The chef, George Crum, eventually sliced them so thin and fried them so much they became crisp.

And finally two of my own…

Buying self-assembly flat pack furniture from Ikea.

The selfie stick and all those sellers who think it’s de rigueur for tourists.


Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller



NIK_15304 - CopyThis year it’s not just the autumn colours making a breathtaking appearance at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. As well as the rich golden hues of this ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ there are also the vibrant reds of thousands of ceramic poppies.

NIK_15290 - CopyFor on display, cascading from the stone parapet of a bridge into the waters of the lake below is a wave of poppies; some of the iconic commemorative ceramic poppies from last year’s exhibition held at the Tower of London. They grabbed the public’s spirit and attention then and they do so again now, this time in the glorious surroundings of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

I hope you can manage a visit.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller

To visit Williamsburg in Virginia is to take a step back in time. Back to a ‘Revolutionary City’ where between 1775 and 1781 the inhabitants had to face a life changing decision – remain loyal to a government or start a new nation based on principles never tested before. On July 25 1776 the citizens of Williamsburg gathered outside the courthouse to hear the mayor read aloud the Declaration of Independence. The decision was made. All that remained was to defeat the British!

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller


…August 1st, Yorkshire Day.

A day when Yorkshire puddings will be eaten, ferrets stuffed down trousers, pigeons fancied, whippets raced, flat caps thrown in the air and much ale quaffed.

“Nowt so queer as folk”, or as we also say in these parts:-

Hear all, see all, say nowt,
eat all, drink all, pay nowt,
and if tha’ does owt for nowt
Always do it for theesen

Have a good (Yorkshire) day.

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