Many well-known people used to visit Eathorpe. Anthony Eden, the foreign minister in Churchill’s war-time Government, and his wife, were regular though occasional visitors to the village. Mr Eden was our Member of Parliament as Eathorpe was within his parliamentary constituency of Leamington Spa. He was a popular man and always well-dressed. The other VIPs we saw were mainly well-known comedians or band leaders. They came to enjoy the relative peace and quietness of our Warwickshire village, and we children were told to give them space so they could relax and enjoy themselves. Ambrose, Geraldo and Joe Loss were the band-leaders who I remember best.
Band leaders and comedians
Geraldo came quite often with his wife. They were particularly popular with the villagers. Arthur Askey, Tommy Handley, Nat Jackley, Vic Oliver, Derek Roy and Jack Train were comedians I remember seeing in Eathorpe. Arthur Askey was a frequent visitor. I used to play with his daughter Anthea. We would meet outside the Plough Inn and play on the lawn… We had a skipping rope and skipped with the other children. Played hop-scotch on the road, gambolled on the lawn where the girls did hand-stands but the boys were never able to manage it, played I-spy and tag, and made daisy chains with which the girls tried to deck the boys, but didn’t succeed in doing so.
Tommy Handley starred in ITMA, one of the most popular radio (it was called wireless in those days) programmes of the war. He was a small man, not much to look at, and with a surprisingly quiet voice for such a dominant radio personality. Jack Train usually came with Tommy Handley. He had a regular slot on the ITMA show on which he played the part of a drunkard with the catch phrase “I don’t mind if I do”, spoken whenever he thought he was being offered a drink…. Vic Oliver came occasionally to Eathorpe. He was a funny man and I can remember him making me laugh when he was ordering a drink at the pub. He wouldn’t go into the Plough but stand outside and knock on a window until the landlady opened it and took his order. “Shoot the liquor to me vicar” he would say. It was probably one of his catch phrases.
Does anyone know why all these national figures were visiting Eathorpe?
And was it Vic Oliver’s catchphrase?
1 Warwickshire County Record Office CR 3913/1