The Dentist’s Diary – 675th

Well another 7 days go by and it seems this difficult and at times baffling situation just goes on and on. 

I know we are lifting the restrictions but it’s hard to see when we will ever see rugby league back to normal again. I have watched a bit of the NRL and have to say that I like the new 6 tackles rule for infringements at the play the ball, but overall their administrators and indeed their government seem to be so much more organised than we are. However even they are doubtful about getting fans back into the grounds again, although with their saturation TV coverage and the money that  the Clubs get from that, attracting crowds back to the game seems to be a long way down even their agenda at present. 

It was sad this week to hear of the death of a real stalwart of the RL fans message Board and a reader of the Dentists Diary, Chris Jones, AKA Chris28. He was a guy that I was in contact with quite a bit over the years, a great person  and a real good ‘died in the wool’ FC fan. He had been ill for some time, but it was still a shock when I heard the news and my thoughts go out to his family and friends at such a difficult time. As another true fan passes on R.I.P. Chris28.

On another tack I bumped into Steve McNamara the other day in Beverley where he was out for a bike ride. He stopped for a chat and told me how tough things were during lock down in France and how he had to drive across the country to get home to England and have special papers, tests etc to get back. It was so good to talk rugby again, although he, like all of us, was unclear as to what would happen and when it will come to pass. As I have said in here many times I really do fear for the game, still, it was great to chat to Steve and I wished him well for the future. 

So back to the serialisation of my story of Hull FC, as it enters one of the most exciting times we have seen in the last 60 years. As I said before, these are not the final drafts which are with the publishers, but are some pre-proof copies of my own, so I apologise if they are a few mistakes here and there, but I hope that you finds something to enjoy. 

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The Dentist’s Day – 674th

So, hello to week ten of the serialisation of my first book and as we reach the late 70’s, things start to get exciting down at the Boulevard with the coming of Bunting and the amazing ‘Knocker’ Norton. 

This week has been a quiet one rugby wise as the pandemic rumbles on and there is really little sign of it ever ending. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes as the Clubs got together again this week, for a long meeting to decide just how to get things moving again. I know that games will start behind closed doors but, I also believe from what I’m hearing from readers and people who keep in touch, that it will take a lot of convincing to get some fans back in the grounds even when we are told that the game is opening up again. There’s still a lot of apprehensive folks out there. 

Still, the Aussie experiment seems to be going well and they have made a good job of re-launching the season for the TV cameras and all the sit at home fans. However, they do seem to have been a bit smarter than us with this and indeed with how as a country they have dealt with the virus in general. 

Still I’ll keep going and move, after next week, into the second book, as we continue the life spanning journal of an average fan with an undoubted obsession for his Rugby League team. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 673rd

So, at last this week, we saw some news coming out of the club, but all of it not good really, as we heard that both Ratu Naulago and Albert Kelly won’t be with us in 2021. Ratu for me is a massive loss because, he has real potential to be another Vianicolo type player who could have been a real sensation in the game, but thankfully he had the decency to reject at least one approach from another British Club, in respect for what Hull FC has done for him. 

He had everything in his armoury that you can’t teach a naturally gifted player and that just needed working on, whilst his explosive speed is something that had at times to be seen to be believed for such a big bloke. I’m convinced we will see him starring at Bristol in RU but perhaps not as much as he would have done, (with two less defenders on the field) in League. So, for me as I say, he is a big loss. 

Albert has been threatening a move to Australia for two years now and after what has been going on across the world of late who wouldn’t want to be at home?  But as Kelly departs we lose a real old-fashioned maverick of a player who can make the big play and turn a game with one shuffle of his feet or flick of his wrist. He’s had his moments disciplinary wise, and also been rather prone to suspension and concussion of late so perhaps the time is right, but he’s an enigma that it will be virtually impossible to replace. In saying all this, as if they are gone already, I guess it looks like I am writing this season off and in effect if I’m honest I think I probably am. For normality seems as far away now as it did when the game was suspended all those weeks ago. Who’s next for leaving? Well we’ll just have to wait and see.  

Also this week, the Challenge Cup Final was ‘postponed’ and despite all the hoo haa that accompanied its announcement that was something that was always going to happen. Fact is, I think it is a competition that is unlikely to be enacted at all this season, particularly if we are intent on cramming in the rest of this league campaign as well. 

Personally, as things stand now, I’m for scrapping relegation as well, because even if we get started and try to cram games in, perhaps at 3 a week and through the winter weather, with postponements etc. the ‘playing field’ will not be even at all, so I think that to retain relegation in such a scenario will be a travesty.    

But now back to the story of my lifelong passion for Hull FC and you know, I have been amazed (when I have read back these chapters for the first time for 6 years), just how tough those years in the seventies were and just how much we celebrated anything even a gallant loss. They were such tough times, but this week’s episode ends with one such great day all be it a losing one. So here goes and I hope you find something to enjoy in it!! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 672nd

Hello Everyone, I hope you’re all hanging in there. As the virus stuff continues and we all self-isolate, it’s all getting a bit tedious isn’t it and even with my most optimistic head on it’s hard to see when life will ever be the same again. There is little doubt that at such times, some things are much bigger than rugby but across the various sports in this country everyone is just trying to survive as best they can and as such rugby league certainly has its challenges. 

At such a time it truly was a masterstroke for the RL to secure that £16m loan for the Government. The money is clearly a crucial lifeline and will certainly help all clubs in the months ahead. What’s more Sky TV have now pledged to support the game for the last two years of their contract which is great too. 

Looking at cost cutting, it also appears that there seems to be a growing move from many in Super League to scrap the two-tier system of administration so that the two bodies unite again. I know it’s a case of needs must but for some of us, the shambles that ensued before Super League split away still hangs heavy in our memories. However, Ralph Rimmer who has done so well to secure the funding, but who didn’t exactly covered himself in glory on several occasions in the past, has other problems to sort now, including the one that could be the most problematic yet: promotion and relegation. 

Lots have been calling for there to be no relegation in 2020 due to the unusual circumstances under which the competition currently finds itself. There is little doubt that the fixture list could look very different to how it was originally planned, with so much uncertainty about whether Catalans and Toronto will even be able to travel. Although, as I always said in the diary, any format that involves loop fixtures and Magic Weekend is flawed and open to accusations of inequality anyway. So, those in favour of scrapping relegation have a powerful argument given the unprecedented chaos Covid-19 has brought. But that won’t bode well at all with those in the Championship and League 1 who are striving to earn promotion. They have set up working groups to sort it out, but most Super league clubs will be averse to relegation after a truncated and disparate season.  

However, the likes of Toulouse Olympique, London Broncos and Leigh Centurions to name three have invested heavily in their bid to reach or return to the elite. If it is decided there should be no promotion or relegation (and one is almost certainly not going to happen without the other) the owners also won’t have one up but no-one down, as no cash strapped Super League club will agree to the money pot being reduced to include 13 teams in Super league will they? 

Conversely, any suggestion on no movement at all will probably fall on deaf ears for those in the Championship and League 1 striving to earn promotion as without it, their season will effectively be a write off. Furthermore, if it all does eventually start up behind closed doors, as is expected, it is hard to envisage how many Championship clubs will be able to make any money at all. That £16m only spreads so far and a lot of clubs will simply be intent on surviving into 2021. Undoubtedly all of this will be a minefield which will involve some careful negotiating by Rimmer in the weeks ahead. In many ways it’s a tough one and some owners including Neil Hudgell, who are against relegation in a manufactured fixture list, want a definitive answer shelving relegation, before play resumes and they invest anymore. What’s more they are right, for you need to know exactly what you are playing for before you get underway. It’s a tough situation and someone is always going to be unhappy, so there are certainly interesting times ahead!

In the meantime, here we go again with the next part of the ongoing saga of the life of a fanatical FC fan as we look at the 1970’s, at the departure of Johnny Whiteley and the Coaching of Ivor Watts and Clive Sullivan, Saturday nights on the town, annual general meetings, ginger groups, tall tales on wet afternoons, Magic sponges and the lack of any sort of political correctness on the Threepennies! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 671st

Welcome to another week of the Diary, as the lockdown continues and we all try to stay safe and await what happens next. It’s been a quiet old week again in the game, but as the Premier League consider a return to playing football behind closed doors in June and muting the possibility of perhaps even having to consider continuing with the same set up for the whole of next season. There is little doubt at present that the future of rugby league hangs in the balance.

It was a little sad for me to hear that the players union werethis week flexing their muscles and issuing ‘strongly worded letters’ about the players getting a cut of the £16m loan from the government, before it had even been received. I say that simply because at times like these we all have to pull togetherand work as one for the common good. Players must have enough money to survive, pay their commitments and look after their families, that point isn’t in doubt and the owners know that. It was intimated this week from our own players that Adam has even told them that once they are back playing, their wages will be restored.

Whatever they are, I can’t honestly see the owners stuffing their pockets with the money at the expense of keeping the game going or the players solvent, can you? There is no point in anyone getting heavy handed in all this and what is done with the loan has to be done equitably, taking the clubs, the fans and indeed the players along with the process.  

On the other side of the coin this week our Club sent out a letter of thanks to all their sponsors and commercial partnersfor the ‘phenomenal’ help and offers of assistance they have received from these organisations, all of whom are under pressure themselves. The response and offers from this sector of our club has been amazing and is just great to see. In the meantime, whilst us fans await to see how we can all help, theGovernment money has to be used to simply keep the clubs going, so that the game stays afloat. 

The players have effectively been furloughed and like millions of others in the country, everyone in organisations have sadly to take a cut in their standard of living. What’s more our lot have done that and taken their ‘medicine’ in a good spirit. Like all other workers too, all employers and theiremployees will only find out what happens next, once that furloughing has ceased to be in place and the workplaces are starting to open up again. 

Until then, Clubs have to effectively be mothballed and go into hibernation at the lowest possible level of existence, to hopefully re-emerge in some form, when things get better. So,let’s hope that we see some common sense in it all, everyone pulls together and we get back to playing, so that we have a sport left at the end of this tragic debacle. 

For now though, in here, it’s back to my journey through life as a fanatical FC supporter, finding his way in the world, as this week I recount the emergence of Sunday rugby, the great Mick Ronson, ‘We all Hate Leeds’, a victory at last in the Yorkshire Cup Final, tragedy at home, Terry Kirchin, the magical qualities of human urine and the rise and fall of the Clockwork Chicken.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 670th

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Diary and a further serialisation of my life as an FC fan growing up in the world of work, as I gradually develop a distinct dislike for the team at the other side of the city. 

But before we get into that, thanks so much for all the feedback I got last week about what I had to say about the way our club staff and players had rallied around Hull FC and accepted pay cuts etc. It was a great effort and it looks as if it may shortly be our turn as fans to chip in where we can. 

This week as the days dragged by, I was lamenting the possible future of our great club and the sport in general, because everything I read indicated that the storm clouds seemed to be gathering over British Rugby League. It is atime when depressing stuff seems to be surrounding us anyway and to lose the sport that I had dedicated my life to, would be I thought, for me and thousands of others, a massive blow.  

However how heartening it was to hear that, setting us apart from all other sports in the Country, the Government had agreed to a one-off independent loan of £16m, to underpin a game that I have always believed is fundamental to the sporting tapestry and indeed the life of the North of England. Many people have worked tirelessly for this development,particularly the MP’s for East and West Hull Karl Turner and Emma Hardy and they should be heartily commended for their efforts. 

But you see, for me, this horrible crisis the country finds itself in, isn’t a political issueat all, for what is happening is far above politics and the sooner a handful of cheap shot politicians and the majority of the ‘stirer’s’ in the media learn that the better!!At present everything has to just be totally about saving lives and trying to ensure something of the life we knew before, is left for those who are lucky enough to come through this disastrous and shocking time intact. So, you have to welcome a move to save our game such as this is, wherever and whoever it is coming from. 

So, you’ll understand I think, that what struck me most was the comment of Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he said: “From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve. They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures.  In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come.”

That said it all and it has to be good news for the game we all love and indeed for Adam and our beloved Hull FC. However, it also reflects a growing understanding of what the game means to communities and the populous of the north of England and in this instance at least, it animates the current Governments promise to look after the North.

However, in the game itself, the big test of integrity now is to see if any clubs try to ‘poach’ players who are now free agents from other teams. Some Clubs are simplynot at present in a position to secure contracts with those players, although in an ideal situation they would want to keep them. Let’s hope everyone the clubs, the players and the RFL play fair (although rumour is already that one or two ain’t) so that we can hold the line and get through all this together as one game. The RFL had better get the allocation right too, because their record of late hardly engenders faith in them, does it? 

Still, we all have to welcome this intervention in the hope that we have a professional sport to support again one day, when we can all get back to the KCom and back with the great family that is Hull FC. What a day that will be eh !!!!

But now, back to the 60’s when you’ll remember we had just moved from my spiritual home in Airlie Street to Sutton, deep in the heart of enemy territory………

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The Dentist’s Diary – 669th

Hi There again I hope your all doing OK and surviving the changes we are all experiencing and welcome to another edition of the ‘Lockdown Diary’. If you aren’t following the serialisation of the book, I hope that you will at least read the first few paragraphs for I believe that they are important.

It was good this week to see Scott Taylor coming out big to support the Club for their caring attitude to their employees most of whom are on Furlough at present. It also appearedfrom Twitter that Adam was having a few issues with the Bank Manager, as he attempts to access more of the support provided by the government to get business through these strange times. 

This it appears is all linked to ancient debts, accrued by the previous administration, which is all really worrying because as Adam said, it puts the very existence of our club under threat. This, I believe, wasn’t so much Adam going off on one, as him being conscious that the livelihood’s of almost 200 people are in his hands and him only wanting what was due to the Club. We need all the help we can get for it will only take a couple of clubs to get into real difficulties for the whole game to collapse, so we all, fans, clubs, the games administrators and even the clubs Bank manager have to do our bit and hold the line as best we can.  

What is however most heartening is the fact that all 190 people on the Clubs payroll have agreed immediately to a wage cut of up to 35% until August, with not one complaint or grumble. That will bring hardship to some, but when compared with what is going on in Rugby Union and particularly Football, it show all of us (and no doubt Adam), the stuff that rugby league is made of and just reaffirms for us long term fans, what a tremendous spirit there is at Hull FC.That tenacity and will to survive got us through the seventies and the Lloyd years and it will get us through now! It is the stuff that runs through the very DNA of the Club and its army of fans and something that has repeatedly shown up to be our biggest asset over the years. 

I want here to personally thank the players and all the staff for their attitude and understanding and commend their sacrifice and their obvious passion for our great club. For us fans, your actions as employees of the Club we all love are a great tribute to our belief in that Club. What’s more in such dark times, when we are all worried and even scared for ourselves and our families, it is just so heartening and uplifting for us all.

Hull FC is an organisation central to the Community and I hope that should we continue to struggle, Adam and Clarkynext come to us the supporters to help out if we can. Many of us are under economic pressure and struggling at present and many can’t sometimes make ends meet at all, however I know we will all help if we possibly can. This is different to any other crisis we have faced, for it is not brought about by a profligate owner, or are unaccountable Board of Directors, or by the actions of a megalomaniac running the club, nor is it borne out of poor performances, poor coaching or players that can’t be arsed on the field either. 

This is a national crisis that is not of our doing, but one thatthreatens the very fabric of our way of life and as such we all must do what we can to get through it and as we do that, we must strive to preserve the things that are most dear to us all. We are lucky I think to have Adam for he has once again engendered a siege mentality, a belonging and a togetherness at the Club. He is doing his best and as Scott Taylor said, the staff trust him to do that. We must now all trust him and back him and the club through these horrible weeks and months, always with the hope that one day we will return to the KComto watch some rugby again. 

Man, these are strange times indeed. 

However, and moving on, I heard the other day from the keeper of records and all things historical about Hull FC, the Club historian Bill Dalton. He contacted me to tell me of a massive anniversary that came about this week.  Bills hasbecome a good friend to both me and the Dentist Diary over the years and he told me this week that last Friday it was exactly 100 years since our first ever Championship Title. Bill in fact sent me a newspaper cutting from the Yorkshire Post and a great piece he had written about it, that I enclose for you all here. 

Quite ironically, I discovered as well that back then the world was gripped by a massive Flu pandemic which coming as it did at the end of the Great War, in the end killed 17m people worldwide. I guess it will have been so different back then with no health service, news channels, internet and Piers Morgan, but it’s still a case I guess of what goes around…anyway Bill wrote;- 

Saturday 24th April 1920. Northern Union Championship Final (at Headingley)

Results wise, this was Hull’s finest season thus far in the Northern Union resulting in a 2nd-place finish in the League. After the opening day loss at Halifax, only a further four League games were lost up to and including New Year’s Day at Rochdale. 

Following that, only a Home loss to Oldham on Valentine’s Day 1920 spoiled the League record until the final two matches at Easter, during which Hull played 4 games in 5 days, viz; 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th April. The second of that quartet was designated Billy Batten’s Benefit match, which realised £1,079-13s-8d, a monumental sum for those days, and a clear indication of the extent of the affection felt by the Hull supporters. Second position in the League was already secure by the time the Easter Programme had arrived. Leeds, having finished third came to The Boulevard in the Play-Off Semi-Final and were dispatched 11 – 0. 

So, for the first time Hull made passage into the Championship Final where, on 24th April 1920, the Opposition was Huddersfield, the ‘Team of all the Talents’, who sought  a win to achieve a Second ‘All Four Cups’ Season following their all-conquering season in 1914-15. Although much was made of the fact that the ‘Fartowners’ were without their five Tourists, it was also a fact that Hull were without Billy Stone, who had also departed on Tour, and Jimmy Devereux, Eddie Caswell (both injured), Ned Rogers (ill) and Forwards Tom Herridge, Jack Beasty and Fred Newsome, all suspended through dismissals in successive Easter matches. The loss of half their pack of Forwards notwithstanding, Hull matched the Huddersfield six in a dour Forward battle in which Penalties were the main feature of the first half, although all were unsuccessful apart from the solitary effort kicked by Holland on 27 minutes which gave Huddersfield the lead. That one was for offside at a scrum, which Billy Batten fiercely contested. After a flare-up 3 minutes before halftime, following an alleged tripping incident, Alf Grice was sent off, leaving Hull another front line forward short, for the remainder of the game. 

More missed Penalties by both sides together with failed Drop Goal attempts were a feature of the second half in which Hull gradually looked the more threatening as the game wore on. Francis broke and kicked through for Batten whose kick on rolled slowly over the dead ball line, so agonisingly slowly before the chasing Billy could reach it to score. But, it all came right for him and for Hull when, on 72 minutes, he drove through a defensive wall to set Markham up for a run down the wing before Billy took his return pass to score after what The Hull Daily Mail described as “a Superhuman Effort”. So, at long last, Hull attained the Northern Union Championship and Billy Batten was three-quarters of the way to his second full set of Winners medals.

Hull –J. Holdsworth; A.FrancisW.BattenJ.KennedyJ.W.MarkhamT.Milner,J. Hulme; A.GriceE.C.ShieldW.HolderR.TaylorH.GarrettJ.E.Wyburn

Huddersfield – M.HollandG.ToddT.GleesonA.RosenfeldH.PogsonC.MarsdenR.HabronJ.W.HigsonG.NaylorA.SwindenT.Fenwick , A.SherwoodH.Sutcliffe.

Referee – A Hestford (Broughton).                                           

Att: 12,900 (Rec; £1,615) 

So, thanks so much for that Bill, it was certainly an insight into times gone by. However, now for those of you who are following the continued serialisation of ‘Roamin’ the Range Together’ here is my latest offering. The next Chapter of Book One follows the difficult days of the sixties the end of Roy Francis, the advent of Alan McGlone, David Doyle Davidson, John Maloney and Chris Davidson amongst others and a trip to Wembley for a now famous international game.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 668th

So, here we are again 4 weeks into the serialisation of my first book and I just wanted to thank all those of you who have, in such strange and scary times, taken the opportunity to contact me after reading the previous instalments. It seems, like me, some of you are enjoying the brief escape of reliving less complicated times. In fact, a lot of you have returned to me stories of your own that hopefully one day in the future I’ll be able to include in the Diary. I know by the number of folks that are ‘clicking on’ every week, it’s being read by plenty of the regular readers.

Thank-you so much for all that and for sticking with me as the weeks come and go and I just hope that keeping the diary going in some form, is working for you, at a time when, however hard we look, good news is hard to come by, whilst   rugby news is none existent.

I know one thing, I miss bumping into all those fans I used to see every week, in the street, in the shops and in the pub, who were all eager to chew the fat about the last game, what I’d had to say in the diary and the team in general. If all this has proved nothing else then it has certainly brought to the fore just what gregarious and social animals we all are. 

As I said last week the weekly rounds may not be taking place,  the FC may not be training and the club may be in a bit of a state (as all clubs are), but as fans and comrades, even when we are unable to meet, we continue to gain great succour and strength from being part of the great FC family, and I think that there is a kindred spirit about us all that will, in the end, get us through.

Better times must be around the corner and one day we will,I’m sure, be getting back to some rugby and just worrying about who’s injured, who’s out of form, how our new coach is getting on and what the SMC is up to; if that is, by then, we have a game to support. 

Thanks’ as always for your good wishes, which I of course return to all of you.

This week in the continuing tale of a lifelong FC fanatic, we move into a rather tough times for the club; the 1960’s. However, for this young fan, struggling with the rigours, heartache’s and bullying of the 60’s secondary education system (which included being forced to play Rugby Union), there was always, my first trip to Wembley, Arthur Keegan, Clive Sullivan and the great Wilf Rosenberg to get me through. This week we start with a bit of Shakespeare and if occasionally it’s not strictly accurate, it’s just my mind playing tricks on me and on how I remember it. One things for sure however, it’s all come straight from the heart. So, again, I hope this week you find something to enjoy. Stay safe everyone!

Try to Keep Believing 

Pete

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The Dentist’s Diary – 667th

Under normal circumstances I would today be wishing you a Happy Easter, reviewing and celebrating another big win over the Dobbins (hopefully!!) and looking forward to a tough old second Easter game on Monday, instead I’m wishing you well and trusting that you’re all keeping safe and staying in. 

These are certainly mad, bad and sad times, aren’t they? 

What a total mess this all is and although sport is pretty secondary to staying alive, I guess like me, there will have been times when you yearn to get back to the KCom to cheer on any sort of performance by our heroes. It seemed as if it was a real slog and even a drudge at times over the last couple of seasons, but oh boy, how we’d welcome some of that to return, in any form, now!! 

For me, the whole future of our great game hangs in the balance and lately I just seem to be pondering more and moreon the fact that I really don’t know how lucky I have been over all my years of following the FC. I guess as Joni Mitchell once said, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”. 

Don’t you as well, just have to wonder if the world of a sportwe all loved, will ever be the same again. Still, we all battle on and as brother’s in arms we in the FC Army have our camaraderie, memories and love of our club to keep us goingand so now, as promised, here is the third episode of my life, as a fanatical FC fan, growing up in Airlie Street in the ‘Shadow of Giants’. I hope you find something to enjoy, try to…..

Keep Believing.

Pete.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 665th

Well if any of you managed to wade through last weeks offering here’s another dollop of the same as I continue the serialisation of my books about living in West Hull, the world of school and work and my lifetime obsession with Hull FC.Remember they are not the definitive final draft because these copies come before final proofing etc. but, I’m sure you’ll get the idea. I hope that you and your family are doing your best to stay safe. Man, these are tough times indeed but as promised below, I continue to cover my own younger yearsliving in simpler times, just across the road from the Boulevard. I hope to find something to enjoy. Stay safe and keep believing! 

Pete

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