O’, the joy of those long distant days of childhood. Of annoying the locals with ‘Knock down Ginger.’
Of foraging in ditches for grime covered fizzy pop bottles, to demand the three pence deposit from less than enthusiastic shopkeepers.
And of summer bike rides, in a pristine countryside yet to be deluged by a tsunami of assorted human kind. A time of frequent fairs and circuses, and the menagerie of exotic animals. Who could forget the momentous day Goldie the Wonder Dog arrived in town?
A pooch of arithmetic genius. Who wowed all who gathered to witness its talents at the now demolished St Martin’s Hall, Bletchley. In those days this venue well deserved its other title as the Social Centre, and from the packed audience at the age of 11 I overcame temerity to ask the woofy wonder for the answer to four times two; completely oblivious that the correct number of barks was a response to its master’s foot tapping. Perhaps, I should have tried calculus. But at the time Goldie seemed the king of calculating canines. And it was the King of beasts that some years ago a motorist on the Granborough Road thought he saw in a field.
Thinking it was a lion he flagged down a motorist for a second opinion, and police were called. However, using a helicopter they soon came across Oliver, a Great Dane sleeping peacefully.
And Oliver was none too pleased, for he ran off at their approach. Then in 1960 a man reported seeing a lion near Little Brickhill. The head keeper at Whipsnade was summoned and although tracks were genuine, no lion was ever found.
But many years ago there was a real lion in Stony Stratford, or more correctly a cub wrapped in a blanket, carried in a wicker basket by a girl out shopping. On a big game hunt she shot a lioness, and of the three cubs she gave two away and kept the third.
In these more enlightened times many exotic animals are to be seen at Woburn Safari Park, including performing sea lions. Perhaps they’re descendants of Bonzo, who starred at Stacey Hill in a ‘Noah’s Ark on Wheels.’ Billed as ‘the animal with a human brain’ he kept his eye on the ball. But in reading such claims, it’s always best to take a balanced view.