Monday, 22 September 2008

Tinplate Saturdays

Saturday saw a beautiful, sunny, placid day on the beach at Brancaster in Norfolk. The tide was in on our arrival, but it soon receded over the vast sandy levels of the Staithe harbour to be a just discernible blue line on the far horizon, leaving shallow channels streaked across the beach. Just perfect for launching one of Mr.Sutcliffe's tin model ships in order for it to bob along over sandworm casts and broken shards of razor shell. Youngest Boy had purloined said ship from the bathroom shelf, but we couldn't find the key that you stick down one of the funnels to get the propeller whirring. But it did provide some excellent photo opportunities as it drifted aimlessly about, Philip Larkin's '...steamer stuck in the afternoon...' from To the Sea. Sutcliffe Models will be remembered from seaside toy shops of the 50s and 60s- pale green Nautilus Submarines and topical Bluebirds. And dad's workshop or garage often had a bright red Sutcliffe Oil Can with its gold label on the shelf. I was fortunate enough to buy my tin liner from Mr.Sutcliffe himself. Having retired he hawked his remaining stock around toy fairs until one Saturday I spied his stall stacked with brightly-coloured tin. Which is all very well but it doesn't shed any light on where the missing key is.

10 comments:

Diplomat said...

How hopelessly irresponsible of you to lose the bloody key - for heaven's sake man, it should be secured with a length of string to the funnel. Having dicovered the key to be missing, you should really have fashioned a facsimile from some kitchen equipment, or at least tried the key from the grandfather clock - reduced if need be by the insertion of a Swan Vesta or two. The thought of that frustrated trip to Brancaster leaves me feeling a little un-well.

Jon Dudley said...

Just checking in from Indiana...will search flea markets for suitable key although without too much trouble I'll probably be able to find a key collectors club here. Thanks for breath of insanity of a different kind.

Philip Wilkinson said...

To paraphrase Alan Bennett, life, you know, is rather like Mr Ashley and his Sutcliffe Model: we're all looking for the key. Let us know if you find it.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Delightful. I'm sure the incident of the missing key will prove formative for the younger Ashleys. I have a drawer full of keys (who amongst us has not?) yet I know for a fact that not one of them will fit down your little boat's funnel and wind up the motor. Allegory! Allegory! They've all got it allegory!

Thud said...

Sounds rather like my day at Hoylake on sunday....although the windfarms on the horizon leave mr feeling a little uncomfortable...I like ships at sea.

Peter Ashley said...

Diplo, you are absolutely right, of course. The trouble is the key is in an old Gold Flake box with several other tin toy keys in order to keep them away from small but perfectly formed itchy fingers. You'd think that something bright yellow wouldn't go missing for long, but alas. And welcome back Mr.Dudley. There's been a rumour been going round that you were locked in Harvey's cellar in Lewes.

Jon Dudley said...

Alas, no. In the land of gin and tonic at the moment. Beefeater of course.

Ron Combo said...

I wish there was a Brancaster here in Italy. The coastline near us (seen from above) is sea - strip of sand - lots of concrete - motorway - arid mountains. He remarked bitterly. Make a booze soaked expat happy and put up a photo of some rotting hulk in a deserted creek on the Norfolk coast with a Shag drying itself on a nearby buoy. Should cue some witty asides at least.

Peter Ashley said...

Always willing to oblige Ron, so I refer you back to my posting on the 29th October 2007, "Tidal Reaches No.2". I'm afraid there's no shag cleaning, or indeed preening, itself on a nearby buoy, but it won't take much imagination to put one there.

Peter Ashley said...

And oh, Diplo. I've found the key. In a box wedged between a 1950's black Bakelite telephone and a drum of 50 Player's Medium Navy Cut. Quite looking forward to bath time.