28.9.17. FREEDOM?

I write a daily blog for you to read, now here is an opportunity to do some thinking for yourself...


No walls, no wire,

No guards, no guns,

No dogs, no danger?

No threats, no fears,

No gods, no ghosts,

no lists, no Leader?

A book, a bed,

A home, a hope

A school, a teacher?

So, what is it that makes you free?  Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, Religious, Physical, or psychological factors?  

Is it enough to be free from constraints or must you be actively free to make choices for yourself?

(My thanks to Jason Buckley, The Philosophy Man)



...Sprinter Ben Johnson of Canada was stripped of the 100m Gold Medal he had  won two days earlier in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.  He was found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs. Since then many others have been caught  and many others haven't.  The whole Russian team was banned from participating in the 2016 Games following an expose of a state doping programme.  With so much national prestige and money at stake, are the events we see between competing athletes, chemists or drug testers?  

At the opposite end of the moral code was the great Scottish sprinter and international Rugby player, Eric Liddell.  As those who have seen that magnificent film, "Chariots of Fire" will know, he was originally selected to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.  It was not until he was in Paris did Liddell discover that the 100m heats were due to be run on a Sunday.  Being a man of strict religious principle it would have gone against his conscience to have competed on the Sabbath, so he dropped out from a race he would almost certainly have won.  The other great British sprinter, Harold Abrahams, won it instead.  However, a place was found for Liddell in the mid-week 400m. As a mark of his truly great sprinting ability, he won that instead.  He them retired from sport and sailed for China as a missionary.  He was to die there  in 1945.

There was far more separating the two athletes than skin colour, physique and running kit. Johnson and company represent everything that is wrong with international sport, Eric Liddell everything that is good.  His ability was matched only by the strength of his convictions.  

If it would ever been possible for Ben Johnson and Eric Liddell to look each other in the eyes, I wonder who would have been the first to drop them?



On Sunday 11th of December,  Elizabeth and I joined a village trip to Lincoln Market.  We enjoyed seeing the bustle of the people, the varied food on sale and a good pint in a pub. 

At 3.30 we made our way back to the coach pickup point.  As we were early we sat down on a bench outside the catheral.  We had not been there long when I suddenly felt something like a hard blow on my left cheekbone.  It was followed by an agonising pain like half a dozen toothaches.  My condition was so obvious that our fellow passengers had a whip round for aspirins.

The next day it was fine so I went to school, taught and all was well, until 4.15 when the pain returned in spades.  This was then the recurring pattern with the pain returning at the same time every day.  Getting no sleep I had to give school a miss.  By Christmas the pain was non-stop.  I walked and walked just to take my mind off it, failing every time.

By the evening of December 27th, Elizabeth called the doctor.  He said I looked terrible and in an attempt to shine a light into my eyes, he sat me down on a bar stool we had in the living room.  Everything began to swim and then it happened...down came a red curtain. 

My first thought was, "Ere, I could snuff it!"  (True...I am writing this from my 1994 diary),

My next was "It's good bye to Elizabeth!"

And lastly,  "Oh no it bloody well isn't" and I had what could have only been a surge of adrenaline and 100% rage. 

The red curtain began to recede and as I  focussed  on our doctor and Elizabeth so the rage diminished.  I ended up in hospital followed by lengthy treatment and retirement (without anyone actually diagnosing what caused the pain).

Whatever, I am convinced it was that adrenaline-fuelled rage that pulled me through.  I hope never to have to summon it up again but at least  it left me with an inkling of what had motivated Viking Berserkers!"


So, British sporting prowess…fact or fiction?
…Firstly, the nineteenth century “we” who codified the rules/laws of so many games and sports were a “we” very largely. restricted to midizabethdle class, wealthy, public school and university educated white men. They had the leisure, time and surplus energy to spare. As empire builders and administrators it was they who spread sport to the colonies, not the rest of “us.”

The “us”- were the overwhelming majority of the population whose working hours and nature of employment , child bearing and rearing left them with anything but leisure, time and surplus energy to spare. The most popular sporting activity for those interested males was watching, reading about it in newspapers, arguing about it in pub or at work and betting on it. Has anything changed?

Then as now, the most popular sport was Football (known to much of the world as “Soccer.”) and we naturally assumed world dominance. Unfortunately, foreigners then got involved. In the eighty years since the first World Cup (in which it was beneath our dignity to compete) and despite the vast amount of money now flooding into the Premier League, we have managed to win the trophy just once- and that was on home soil in 1966. Compared with Brazil and especially Germany our record in all international soccer tournaments has been pathetic. We have reached the point where the English Head Coach has only 30% of Premier League players to select for a national team.

Our Olympic achievements? Until quite recently this was down to the gifted amateurs thrown up by the law of population averages and with a minimum of outside help and a great deal of luck.
While the professional era and National Lottery Funding has changed all that, many of our Olympic medals are won in sports with less than universal involvement. Beyond the purse of many nations are Equestrian events, Track cycling velodromes, even expensive road racing bikes and technical know-how, indoor and state of the art outdoor athletics stadia, Golf Courses, Indoor Tennis facilities, sailing bases, swimming and diving pools, Rowing, Kayak and Canoe courses, not to mention skilled coaching, dietary and medical backup. Then of course there is the prejudice against the participation of women in sport in many countries of the world.
Thanks to society’s enlightened attitudes to what the physically handicapped can achieve, British athletes do astronomically well in Para-Olympic and World championships. Sadly. many other societies do not share our attitude, so competition is restricted to those that do, and alone can afford the needs of physically impaired athletes.
A truer picture of where we stand vis-vis the rest of the world is middle and long distance running. Costing very little, it is accessible to athletes from the poorest of nations and is therefore the one sport offering universal comparison. Mo Farah aside, our other Olympic achievements in such events have been derisory.
The conclusion so far? However happy we are reading about sport, watching it, betting on it and arguing about it ,we are rubbish at international sport.    So much for the National Myth that we are.
The question? Does it matter?








Yesterday I wrote about the alleged "monkey-hangers" of Hartlepool and the power of myth on popular belief, however scanty the evidence.

It is arguable that British sporting achievement and popular participation are a similar myth, afterall...
Did we not invent and export most of the world's most popular games and sports?
Have we not won World Cups in Football and Rugby?
On a ratio of population size to medals won, are we not top Olympic nation?
Is it not in answer to public demand that our media give sport such wide coverage?
Is sport not enshrined in our National Curriculum for schools?
Is it not now a multi-pound industry providing work for many?
Does not participation cut across class barriers?
Is it not the most popular topic in pubs, clubs and places of work the length and breadth of the land?

Tomorrow I will explore these assertions...facts or mythical fictions?

18.9.17. AN APE JAPE?

It is all too easy for a myth, once it has been accepted as community folk lore, to become “History.”
An example is the “Hartlepool Ape,” on which a play has been based that is about to tour the country.
The story goes that a ship was lost off Hartlepool during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) and local fisherman found the sole survivor-an ape of unrecorded specie.
Locals, never having seen a Frenchman, let alone an ape, assumed that the creature’s gibbering was its language and promptly hanged it as a spy.
Down to this day, the mascot of Hartlepool Football Club is a monkey, the guy in the suit having been thrice elected as town mayor and apparently a visiting team’s supporter’s favourite chant is “Who hanged the monkey?”

It makes me almost ashamed to question such a piece of lively surviving folk lore, BUT there is a singular lack of objective evidence.
1. Shipwrecks off Hartlepool during the period have been accurately recorded, but there is no mention of a surviving ape.
2. There is no corroborative newspaper evidence from the time.
3. In popular satirical cartoons of the period, the French and Napoleion in particular were often portrayed as monkeys/apes, so to the unenlightened mind…
4. Could the surviving victim have been a French boy serving as a “Powder MONKEY” aboard a French vessel? This was a well known term for boys employed at sea aboard a man o’ war to service cannons.
5. Could it have been a French ship’s mascot dressed in miniature military costume and trained to dance a t a piper’s tune?
6. Fiona-Jane Brown, a folklorist at Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute, suggests the Hartlepool legend stems from a similar incident off the village of Boddam, near Peterhead, in 1772.
'Intriguing story'
A song of the time recalls how a monkey survived a shipwreck off Boddam. The villagers could only claim salvage rights if there were no survivors from the wreck, so they allegedly hanged the monkey.
Ms Brown claims the song was adapted over many years as it travelled down the east coast, eventually spawning a Hartlepool version and embedding the monkey myth in Teesside culture.
She said: "The evolution of the song remains an intriguing story in itself, but it's also interesting how each community relates to it now.
"On Teesside, the legend has been generally adopted as a positive marker of social identity which survived on the football field.
"But in Scotland, the Boddamers have refused to accept what they see as a slur against their community, a bad memory of bitter rivalries of the past."
Thus in the absence of objective evidence we can either do “a Trump” and pick the story we like best or balance all theories and chose what is probable over that which is possible.
Whatever, there is no denying the hold over people’s minds of a belief that they WANT to be true.
Take for example the myth to which we English hold, that we are a sporting nation. I will cover this tomorrow.









Great Yarmouth…A Front Line town
Being a North Sea coastal town, we inhabitants of Yarmouth and Gorleston found ourselves in the Front Line of the action.
My mother’s experience was typical.  It is that I have relied upon for this article.


...She had an involved war alright. Bombed first out of her own home, she went back to live with her parents until bombed out of there as well (she took this very personally),  all three finally ending up in a 3-up/3-down terraced cottage on Trafalgar Road.   



She had a great fund of stories from the time. On one occasion they were too late getting to a shelter so the three of them squirmed their way together under the kitchen table. As the bombs fell, grandfather Dawkins began to swear and curse. It was only later that mum discovered that she had embedded a high heel in one of his ears.

Incidentally this was the same grandfather who cut a hole in , the front of his gas mask so he could still smoke his pipe!


One night the three of them (and by now me) fixed up to share our next door neighbour’s shelter for company. Off went Moaning Minnie, (the siren) and out they rushed. It was not until they got to the shelter that they realised nan was missing. Mum left me with the neighbour, went to look for her and found her alright. In cocking her leg over the fence she had snagged her knickers and was trapped. With bombs falling, anti-aircraft guns blazing away there was mum with a pair of scissors performing surgery on nan’s underwear. All the time the old lady kept repeating, “You bugger, Hitler! I’d like to stuff you with onions!”

There was also a very serious side. Late one afternoon, mum went down to the corner shop to get something for tea. She was joined by an old school friend who husband was also at sea. They chatted, got served and left the shop each for their own homes.
That night , another air raid and a terrifying explosion as a bomb landed perilously close to us. Next day we found only 300 yards separated us from death. Mum’s friend to whom she had chatted in the store had not been so fortunate. Her shelter had received a direct hit and she was killed instantly.



Their’s was a tough generation. One of our sons served in the artillery during the First Gulf War. We lived on egg shells for the few months of the campaign. Dad was away on active service  with the RNVR for the best part of SIX YEARS, with mum not even knowing where he was most of the time, yet she coped…”You just got on and made the most of things!”
Mum did, earning a good living in her own right as an expert clothing machinist at Messrs. Johnsons’s factory and doing bespoke dressmaking from home.

I am not religious but I do try to remain as stoical as my mother.  "Fortune is blind and dispenses good and bad with a total lack of discrimination."  

It gives me a great deal of comfort.




Not so very long ago Elizabeth and I went on a village coach trip to London’s Imperial War Museum to view their Second World War exhibition “The Home Front.”

Our attention was caught by a mock-up Anderson Air Raid shelter. We entered along with others, sat cramped and uncomfortable listening to enemy aircraft overhead, anti-aircraft fire from the ground and feeling the shelter shake as bombs exploded around us. All very realistic.
As we left the shelter, Elizabeth saw a small notice…”This exhibit is unsuitable for children under the age of five.” “What about us as five year olds who went through the real thing?”

Returning home, the shelter incident struck me with a sudden thought. After studying and teaching History for most of my life, I was now a part of History myself, no longer an interpreter but an active participant and eyewitness.
To set the record straight, I have decided to describe the first phase of my life from birth to age eleven, not because my experience was any different to that of millions of others, but because it was no different…only in details.
More to follow…









Question…Derek, why do you support so many minorities?
Answer… Out of pure self-interest. Pastor Martin Niemuller, the German clergyman who spent most of the period 1938-1945 in a series of concentration camps for opposing Hitler, put it very succinctly…

First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unions
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me-
And there was no one left
To speak out for me!

…and in 2017? (DTF)


17/3 DOES GO
After giving the brothers a little while to stew in their own juice, the executor of their father's will at last informed them that their problem was solved.
He had discovered how to divide the 17 surviving cattle between them so that the eldest son would get his allotted half of the herd; the second son, his allotted third, and the youngest, his sixth.

As the travelling lady said, the solution was very simple. He told the youngest brother to go to the neighbouring farmer, ask to borrow one of his herd and bring it back with him.

Once it had arrived the executor put it with the 17 others. and asked how many cattle now stood in front of them.
They all agreed there were 18. "Right" said the executor and turning to the eldest son, told him to take his half of the herd...nine in all.
The second son was then told to take his third...six in all.
Finally the youngest was told to take his ninth...two in all.
The brothers were satisfied they all had their fair share of the herd as bequeathed in the will. Peace reigned.
Before leaving to their hearty thanks, however, the executor reminded the three of them that there was one last thing for them to do...TO RETURN THE BORROWED 18th COW TO ITS OWNER!



17/3 WON'T GO

For the few of you who have not met this old conundrum before...

In the time of this story there lived a farmer who owned eighteen beef cattle.

Making his will, he left half the herd to his eldest son; one third to his second son and one sixth to the youngest.

Not long after, the farmer died and not long after that so did one of the cattle. This left seventeen,and the executor of the will with a headache.

How was he going to divide 17 into 1/2; 1/3 and 1/6 shares, the Judgement of Solomon involving a chain-saw being clearly inappropriate.

Needless to say, as in most families brotherly love was forgotten in the face of potential loss and gain. Arguments turned to violence over who should get what. Soon the three brothers were at each other like stoats in a sack.

Leaving the farmhouse after his latest attempt to broker peace and at his wit's end, the executor met an old lady of the travelling people on his road.
As it was a very hot day, the two of them sat down on a low wall to rest and it was not long before the executor explained his problem.
The old lady listened attentively, considered the matter and finally with a smile, told him the answer was simple.
All he had to do was...

If not, I will provide it tomorrow. All I will say for now is that a very grateful executor went on his way with a lifetime's supply of newly purchased clothes pegs.



During the BBC’s excellent coverage of the weekend’s Great North Run, a pilot was interviewed. He expressed pride in having flown with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team which he described as “The Best of British.”
I disagree.

Now, before you rush up to my night time gates with your pitchforks, burning brands, crucifixes and garlic, give me leave to explain.

Not for one minute do I doubt that officer’s, skill, courage and devotion to duty, any more than I would any other members of HM Armed Forces. I really do respect the outstanding courage so many have shown on battlefields across the world defending those unable to defend themselves. However, at the end of the day, they are there to kill. I believe that the very best of British is not to shorten the lives of others for whatever reason, but to extend and enrich them.

Instead, take for example the competitor who was one of the very last to start the Great North Run half marathon. He had been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer and given but months to live. His illness had necessitated him having to have a leg amputated and be fitted with a prosthetic limb instead. Yet there he was with two sticks determined to finish the 13 odd miles to raise funds for the hospice that along with his family was looking after him. By my definition…


Equivalent of the smoking gun.


Sixteen years ago today saw hijacked planes used as flying bombs to attack both the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
As with the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy it left most of us with indelible impressions of where we were that day when we first received the news.

The day after, Elizabeth and I were off on a very subdued coach holiday to Scotland with the attack very much on everybody's mind.

The next afternoon found me sitting in the hotel lounge studying the beautiful view down the glen, when I was joined by a fellow guest. She took in the same view for a good five minutes before turning to me and saying how difficult it was in that time and place to imagine such evil in the world as had been visited on the United States.

I could only nod, not wishing to cause dissent, for that glen along with so many others had been part of a far greater evil begun two centuries before.
Out earlier with my camera, I had found and photographed the remains of a couple of bothies. They were archaeological evidence of the cruel programme of ethnic cleansing carried out at the behest of a British political, financial and military establishment and otherwise known as "The Highland Clearances."

Sold out by their anglicised clan chiefs and big capital, thousands of crofters had been driven off their land to be replaced by the more profitable Cheviot sheep.
With nowhere else to go, the crofters found themselves driven to and abandoned on the bleak. rocky coasts of Caithness and Sutherland. There was little land, so to survive they had to learn to fish from scratch-in some of the most turbulent waters around the British Isles. Their alternatives were starvation or emigration.
So began the Highland diaspora.

The ability to inflict widespread suffering is not the sole preserve of Moslem Jihardists. It can be achieved equally well by middle class, white, Anglo-Saxon protestant males in sharp business clothes and an even sharper greed.


Very sad story reported on the BBC website this morning concerning Bats. (No, not cricket but those mice that joined the Transylvanian Air Corps).
Apparently there have been reports of them flying into vertical plate glass windows that confuse their built-in radar.

I am ashamed to say that my mind immediately called up an incident from “Witches Abroad” by the late and irreplaceable Terry Pratchett.

The eponymous heroines, Grannie Weatherwax, Magrat Garlick and Nannie Ogg accompanied by her frightful cat Greebo, are passing through Vampire territory when they decide to rest for the night at a village inn.

True to form a bat appears and hovers outside Magrat’s  bedroom window. Feeling too hot, she carelessly throws open the wooden  shutters. This is quickly followed by a “grunt and a distant thud of something hitting the ground.”
Greebo meanwhile, out on the prowl but failing to find neither food nor female cats thus finds a toy in the form of a large stunned bat, even if it is trying to change its shape.

Later, with the three witches at table, Greebo sat underneath washing himself, and occasionally burping…

“Vampires have risen from the dead, the grave and the crypt, but have never managed it from the cat.”

If you have never acquainted yourself with The Disc World, then do so as soon as possible. You will never regret it.



This is a small part of a wall in my village of Stalham. SO?
It is in fact a treasure house of historical evidence.

1. From a date on a similar wall elsewhere in the village it can be dated to the early eighteenth century. It was made of soft red brick from a small brickfield in the nearby parish of Ingham. With no roads nor railway to transport heavy bulk goods from further afield, local production was essential.

2.  It is actually a demarcation line between two “burgage” plots. (Stalham was a “Linear” village, having developed along the main Yarmouth-North Walsham-Cromer or Yarmouth-Wroxham-Norwich roads. Naturally business owners wanted access to the quite considerable passing trade but there was then little room for wide frontages. Instead, holdings had narrow frontages compensated by long extensions backwards.

3. “Our wall” which probably replaced a wooden fence or hedge separated one burgage plot from “The Swan Inn” which has a certain record extending back to Tudor times.

4. So far this has been pure antiquarianism whereby the wall is seen of interest as an end unto itself , so where does the History begin?

5. It in fact begins with a question…to what extent is this wall and contemporary buildings constructed of the same materials in the rest of the village, typical of the rest of north east Norfolk at that time.

6. A use of Google Earth would suggest “very.” A further use of Google will reveal that this was indeed a significant period in the development of “vulgar” architecture in the Eastern Counties. Before this, most market towns and villages had periodic fires thanks to houses with open fires and having been built and replaced with inflammable materials from from materials close at hand -thatch timber, wattle and daub or at best flint and mortar infill between construction beams. Suddenly, thatch could be replaced with tiles and walls rebuilt of cheapening bricks. Brick chimneys were now available Which brings me back to the starting point of “our” wall…” the product of a local and long defunct cottage industry.

Just another brick in the wall of our understanding.











Catch ma drift, baby?

A "Bucket List" consists of those things people hope to do before they die.

I  prefer to reverse the thought process and list the things I hope to avoid   Hence my "Anti-Bucket List"

First up…


1. White fish with mashed potato.

(I have been offered worse...in Holland fried fish in gravy!)

2. Mayonnaise,

(Why is it so difficult to buy a salad roll or sarnie with none of this in it, Mrs. Gregg?) 

3. Marmite

(Love it, I loathe the smell of it and avoid it like a C17th potential plague victim).

4. Brown/Tomato Sauce

(A loathsome sight, especially when garnished with post-meal fag ends!

5. Porridge

(A glutinous, tasteless morass.  See Tapioca below)

6. Bread and milk

(White slop)

7. Tapioca  

(The frogspawn of school legend)

8. Semolina

(First brewed by a Macbeth witch from the same cauldron as her other discovery of porridge).

9. Jellied Eels

(You mean folk actually EAT them?  You're putting me on!)

10. Fish Pie

(Only married fish should be allowed to do this to each other.)

     Scots have long been known to claim that the English will eat anything so long as there is sugar on it.  However this is one Englishman who would deny it- at least for those ten items above and for a certain sea-faring mollusc...

"It was a valiant man who first set upon the eating of an oyster."  (Just how hungry do you have to be?)




It has never ceased to amaze me at just how much one person can be prejudiced against another simply because of skin colour.

The most ludicrous reaction I have encountered, believe it or not, was by a fellow naturist in expressing his  dislike of all people of colour.  Yet there he and his wife were, laying naked in the sun trying to acquire a tan!  I rest my case, M'lud.




Sitting on the bus, I checked my smartphone for updates.  Finding none and with nothing better to do, I considered the electronic and often much maligned marvel in my hand.

What hardware had it replaced in my lifetime?  I felt the need to compose a list coming on…

Landline telephone

Gramophone/record or CD or i- player/ records/CDs


TV and recorder

Tape recorder

Boxed games/Puzzles


Library of fiction/non-fiction books

Still camera/dark room facilities

Movie camera

Slide projector and screen



Desktop/laptop/tablet computer


Desk diary/personal journal/photo-album

Photo copier, (to name but some).

...and there they all were in my back pocket while sitting on a number 10 bus en route to Norwich


However, seeing “Andrex" on my electronically generated shopping list only served to remind me that there are SOME things a smartphone just can’t replace!

Joking aside, there are of course  very serious political, economic, social and cultural dimensions to both the internet and the Smartphone.   Should we not, therefore,  be seriously considering how best to subject both to democratic control and away from the monopolies of governments and big business?



Wetherspoon's "Troll Cart, Market Gates, Great yarmouth.

"There's nothing so lonesome, nothing so drear

As a bar in a pub that's run out of beer"

Yesterday we took ourselves off into Yarmouth.  Shock!  Horror! Our favourite watering hole, aka "The Troll Cart" is shut until early December for refurbishment.  

It is one of Wetherspoon's huge chain of hostelries and as such comes in for a lot of panning from superior critics.  We are not among them, having visited well over 120 of such establishments the length and breadth of the country.  Most are found in reconstituted old buildings that might well have been otherwise lost- chapels; railway stations, furniture depositories,  coaching inns, theatres, cinemas etc and of course new places like the Troll Cart and Norwich's "The Queen of Iceni." (Ooops. The definite article is in the wrong place.  It should read "Queen of the Iceni" i.e. Boudicca. The Iceni were a tribe, not a place).  

So what is the attraction?  Good range of beer and spirits at very reasonable prices; good basic food;  cleanliness (especially the regularly inspected lavatories!), no juke boxes/bar games overworked but ever helpful staff and basic repectability.  Wetherspoons also provide an  important social service- a meeting place for the elderly and are one of the few establishments where all generations are brought together,  in the Troll cart, for example, young mums with push chairs to George at 95.

Don't knock it!






Quite simply, my dad.

Yesterday I wrote about Sunday 3rd September 1939 - the day war was declared in Europe. A day later and as soon as the local Labour Exchange was open,  my dad did what fishermen have always done in times of such national emergency. He signed up for the Naval Volunteer Reserve.  

It was not  long before he found himself on a corvette escorting convoys through the bomb run alley that was the Straits of Dover, through home waters and sometime later up to Murmansk and Archangel.  His explanation for having done so was simple.  He did not go to defend King and Empire but to wipe out fascism.   It was wrong and had to be destroyed.  If his generation was alive today, I wonder if  they would think it to have been a waste of time? 


Concentration Camp gas ovens.

78 years ago today,  the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.   Sadly the battle against fascist racism did not end in victory in 1945 but still has to be fought.  The dangers to decency are not only the thugs with their rampant prejudice, ignorance, ugly chants and violence.  Equally dangerous are those who say, "I am not racist, but..."  These are the worst of all.  Let us stand together and in this context lose the word "BUT"

On a brighter note, the 2017-18 Premiership Rugby Championship started again this weekend with some excellent coverage by BT TV.  Two cracking matches that I caught...Saracens beating BNNorthampton after a first half as good as anything I have ever seen in club rugby and this afternoon, Bath beating Leicester with the game going down to the wire.