(108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

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Ken
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(108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

Ken
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This post was updated on .
A recent event both pleased and saddened me and it made some long forgotten names return, from my subconscious mind.  Names like Ian Crook, Robin Pretty, Stephen Swann and David Phillips resurfaced, as my memory opened up another storeroom of stories from my past.  The reason for this was probably triggered by a message from a man I have never forgotten, one Thomas Ames, an unusual and talented man who had no reason to view me with affection. Tom, like so many of the people I once worked with, remains forever young in my mind, but most of them would now be close to, or in, their sixties.  What was unusual about Tom was he stood up to me and refused to succumb to the dominance of what I once demanded, that's why I never forgot him!

Somehow, Tom had come across my, 'Kens Cosy,' memory blog, and he responded by replying to one of the stories.  I was pleased to read his comments and I liked the friendly tone of his writing, but I was enormously saddened to hear of the death of my one time colleague, and later antagonist, David Watson. David and I had once been very close and in 1968 we had started what would in time become, Supasports. Back then, when we opened the first shop, it was called the, Guildford Sports Centre, and I'll begin this affectionate tale of David and I in the late October of that year. We were at a trade fair in London, purchasing the stocks we would need for our, soon to open, shop.  Coming across a new company called, 'Russell Hall Sportswear,' we met a man called Patrick Foster.  His company specialised in tracksuits and he was keen to use his product as our big launch offer.  When he asked us what celebrity we'd booked for the shop opening we both looked at him blankly, telling him we hadn't.  He then picked up a newspaper and turned to the sports section saying, "Whose currently in the news?"  He flicked through the paper until he came across a picture of boxer, Chris Finnegan, who had just returned from the Mexico Olympics with his gold medal.  "We'll get him to do it," he stated, as if it was the easiest thing in the world!

Patrick Foster was an impressive and likeable man and he asked us to return to their stand at midday on the morrow. He seemed to take it for granted we'd use his products for our launch and when we arrived we were staggered to have Chris Finnegan greet us.  He met us, looking splendid in his, Russell Hall, tracksuit, with his gold medal hanging proudly around his neck.  Within an hour I had placed a large order and, as some celebratory wine was poured, Chris Finnegan agreed he'd be with us in Guildford on November 30.  With the firmest of handshakes the deal was done and out of the blue we had an Olympic hero to open our shop.  Things had moved so amazingly fast and David and I couldn't believe our luck!

This story now moves on to Friday, November 29, it was late in the afternoon and all was ready for the next days grand opening.  The two of us were happily exhausted for the shop was perfect and all that we now required was for a Council official to issue a public safety certificate.  This was just a formality, or so we thought, but the man who arrived was a pompous twerp of the highest order.  This jobsworth discovered that some large peg board display areas were not painted with an approved, fire resistant paint.  "Sorry, can't let you open," he said with gleeful pleasure. This resulted in a dash to, Brewer's, the paint merchants, arriving just before they closed.  We then had to remove all the displays, repaint everything, wait for the paint to dry, and then replace all of the displays.  It seemed to take forever and it was close to 1.30'am before I staggered to the taxi rank to go home.  I arose early the next morning to catch the first bus to Guildford, having made a personal promise to myself that one day I'd meet and shake hands with that Council Officials throat!

Our press and poster campaign had advertised that the shop would be opened by, Chris Finnegan, at 10am, on Saturday, November 30, 1968.  At 9am, a knock came on the back door and a beaming Patrick Foster stood there with Chris beside him.  With them was Chris's younger brother, Kevin Finnegan, who would, in future years, also become a world class boxer.  By opening time, a crowd was waiting outside the shop and I opened the door to let them in.  Chris handled the people well but I could tell he wasn't used to fame and understandably so, for just twelve months earlier he'd been making his living as a hod carrier on a building site.  However, on that cold November day he did himself proud and his captivating grin lasted for the three hours he was with us.  Patrick Foster got his wish with his tracksuits for David and I sold dozens of them and we sold thousands more in the years to come.  Business wise, the year that followed was a year of discovery and during it we took on our first employee, a gangling young man called Tim Bannister.  That was how it remained until 1970 when we opened our second shop in the town of Woking, right opposite their established sports shop.  By this time we'd developed big plans which meant a new name was required for our business, a catchy name that would suit wherever we chose to trade......!

That name was, 'Supasports,' and it was the proud creation of David and I.  There was already a chain of shops called, Superdrug, so our new name seemed instantly familiar to the public. 'There's A Branch Near You,' was the slogan we were to print on our vans in the years that followed, which was true, as long as you lived in the towns near Guildford. Those were the halcyon days when David and I were still friends, before petty jealousies and wounded ego's reared their ugly heads.  One early difference of opinion between the two of us began during an after work drink.  The manager of a local Jewellery store was with us and he passed a comment about us paying our staff well. He went on to say that one chap was always in his shop, buying jewellery for his girlfriend. That sounded an alarm bell which I acted on and, after setting a trap, I caught the thief red handed.  David actually wanted to give the rogue a second chance, but no way would I agree to such weakness.  With a kick up his dishonest backside, the scoundrel was part of our past, for I instantly sacked him.  David was furious and said I was far too hard on people and I retaliated by saying he was weak and indecisive.  So the problems began which in time would lead to outright war between us!

That war lasted longer than both the World Wars combined but nobody emerged the victor, so rather than dwelling on what could have been, I'll finish on another memory that was triggered by the sad news of David's death.  This one involves a good natured disagreement about who could expect to live longer lives, tall people like him or shorter folk such as I.  I said, "If you look around the local towns you'll find all the older chaps are short, rather than tall men." David retorted with the knock out comment, "Because all the taller men are so successful that they're living overseas in some sunny climate."  I recall grinning as I conceded to his superior argument which pleased my old adversary. Today, I realise, an overseas island is where I've always pictured David, enjoying his golf and his gin and tonic, in the sunshine.  To find out that wasn't so and that he died many years ago, saddens me.  It's strange to think that, excluding me, all the people who took part in that 1968 shop opening are dead.  Stranger still to find that David and the Finnegan brothers all died within months of each other.

At the beginning of this Cosy memory, I mentioned the names of Crook, Pretty, Swann and Phillips.  Other names came flooding back as I wrote, Ian Colpous, Andrew Argent, Robert Luxford, Bill Haire, Ross Dawkins and Andy Kane amongst them.  These and many more were hidden in the storeroom of my past and were unlocked by contact from Thomas Ames. Their past activities may feature in future stories.  
Tom
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Re: (108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

Tom
Good evening ( i am 8 hours ahead here ) . I enjoyed your memories of Jeffreys Passage and the names from our past - which triggered many more. I as you know became friends with the Colman family who still live in Hambledon, John Shortreed and his daughter Sarah, David Eggar and others long forgotten. After Chris Finnegan I recall sponsoring the tennis tournament near the Claverdel Hotel for 2 or 3 years.  They were happy days as fortunately the less happy ones have been erased by time. Best wishes  Tom
Ken
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Re: (108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

Ken
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Good Morrow Sir Thomas,
                                   I'm glad you enjoyed my reminisces of 1968.  I was greatly saddened several years ago when I read of the early deaths of the Finnegan brothers and the writing of the story brought back that emotion.  Equally, your mention of John Shortreed made me smile, for he and I always got on well.  I recall, towards the end of my Supasports reign, you becoming quite close to his daughter, Sarah. Did you ever date?  

I don't know how many of my Cosy stories you have read but, if if its a lot, you will know by now that I feel I was lucky the way things turned out.  I don't think this Ken Tuffs, would have liked the one of yesteryear.  How about you, would today's Tom Ames have liked the one I once knew, on reflection I think you should

Best Wishes Tom

KEN.
                                 
Tom
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Re: (108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

Tom
Good Morning, Another hot day in Davao !  You used to have a low opinion of overseas travel - Did that c hange ?                                                                                                                                                 Yes i was friends with all the Shortreed family, I used to play golf with John and i often went to concerts with his daughters but no she married a Canadian and moved there.  I remember going to his funeral with Ray Dowse.                                                                                                                                             I have absolutely no complaints or indeed the right to complain about my life , I have been very lucky and like you i look back with few regrets and many happy memories.                                                               Did you work again after your move to Wales ?                                                                                          I read often about our rivals at that time  , Dave Whelan of JJB sports and Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, the days of trade shows in London and Birmingham !                                                                                      Best wishes  Tom
Ken
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Re: (108) 'Triggered Memories Of Forgotten People'

Ken
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This tale tells of a good time involving two champion boxers, and a period of needless conflict that lasted for far too long.  I'm the only one who can truly regret that the squabble took place for I'm the only participant left standing.