My latest translation, the Dutch version of Operation Locksmith, Eve’s War, Heroines of SOE book two.
Tall Woman in Red Wagon, Series 1, Episode 5 of The Rockford Files is a ‘flashback’ story with Rockford recalling events after a bullet-inducing concussion.
Rockford’s printing press appears in this episode. One of the main features of The Rockford Files was the way Rockford teased information out of various people by impersonating numerous officials, his credentials always supported by cards freshly minted by his printing press.
There is no neat ending to this episode. I like that format and sometimes use it in my stories. In the main, readers and viewers like the author to wrap up all the lose ends, but in real life lose ends often roll on, and on…
📸 A still from Tall Woman in Red Wagon.
The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed 436 acres of land and made thousands of people destitute. The fire began on Sunday 2 September 1666 in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane. By 7 am 300 houses had burned down.
The fire raged for four days consuming 13,200 houses, 87 churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Guildhall, and 52 livery company halls. Amazingly, the death toll did not reach double figures. However, the fire did make 100,000 people homeless.
London in 1666 was a tinderbox. Timber houses crowded the narrow streets. A dry summer had parched the ground. On the morning of the fire, a strong easterly wind fanned the flames, which leapt from building to building.
Each parish was equipped with axes and hooks to pull down buildings and create firebreaks. However, the fire was so intense that most people grabbed their belongings, tossed them on to boats and fled via the river. Others ran for the city gates.
Looters ran riot. Charles II travelled through the city on his horse, imploring people to fight the flames. The Lord Mayor, Thomas Bludworth, dithered fearing that if he ordered people to pull down their houses, they would respond with compensation claims.
From Pudding Lane, the fire spread to warehouses, then Cheapside, London’s principal street, then St Paul’s Cathedral. John Evelyn reported that the cathedral’s stones exploded like grenades, while molten lead flowed like a stream.
The fire reduced 80% of the city to ruins. For days, the ground was too hot to walk on. Without familiar landmarks, people wandered around, lost. Many camped in nearby fields.
Charles II, and many Londoners, blamed the fire on an Act of God. Sin was its source, particularly the sin of gluttony. The reasoning for this? – The fire started in Pudding Lane. Indeed, an enquiry concluded that the fire was an accident, delivered by the Hand of God.
Thomas Farriner, the baker, escaped the fire. England was at war with France and the Netherlands at the time so, looking for a human scapegoat, the population persecuted a Frenchman, Robert Hubert, a man who suffered from mental health problems.
After a trial, the authorities hung Hubert. However, evidence later proved that Hubert’s ship arrived in London after 2 September 1666.
My ancestors – adults, children, babies – experienced the Great Fire. That horror must have remained with them for the rest of their days.
🖼 Painted in 1675, the Great Fire of London (artist unknown). This scene depicts the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666. To the left is London Bridge; to the right, the Tower of London. Old St Paul’s Cathedral is in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames. The accuracy suggests that the artist had local knowledge.
Welsh Football Legends
Derek Tapscott was born on 30 June 1932 in Barry, Wales to Stanley and Florence Tapscott. He was one of sixteen children.
Derek attended High Street Junior School. Upon leaving school he worked as a delivery boy for a butcher, an assistant to a television repairman then as an apprentice bricklayer.
At a time of National Service, Derek received his call in October 1950. He joined 4 Training Regiment of the Royal Engineers. At 18 Derek was already playing for Barry Town and the Royal Engineers granted him permission to link-up with the club on match days. During his National Service, Derek became a member of the drill staff and was promoted to the rank of corporal.
After his National Service, Derek returned to bricklaying. His appearances for Barry Town continued. His skill caught the eye of the Tottenham Hotspur scouts and they invited him for a trial. However, Derek didn’t sign for Tottenham Hotspur. Instead, in October 1953, he joined their rivals, Arsenal. His transfer fee: £4,000.
Derek began his Arsenal career with a prolific run in the reserves, scoring 13 goals in 15 matches in the London Combination League. On 10 April 1954, he made his first-team debut against Liverpool and scored twice. He scored five more goals in five further matches that season.
During the 1954-55 season Derek established himself in the Arsenal first team. In 1955-56 from inside-forward he became the club’s top scorer, a feat he emulated the following season. He scored 21 and 27 goals respectively.
European competition, in the form of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, beckoned. On 4 May 1956, Derek played for a London XI that defeated a Basel XI 1 – 0.
Manchester United’s final domestic match before the tragic Munich air disaster was against Arsenal. That game developed into a nine-goal thriller with Manchester United taking the honours, 5 – 4. Later, Derek described the game as “the best I ever played in.”
Derek’s 1957-58 season was blighted by injury and he lost his first team place to Vic Groves. This resulted in a move, in September 1958, to Cardiff City. The transfer fee: £10,000. Derek left Arsenal with the impressive record of 68 goals in 132 matches.
Derek made his Cardiff City debut in a 4–1 win over Grimsby Town. The club continued to record impressive results and in 1960 they
won promotion to the First Division. During this period, Derek scored six goals during a 16 – 0 victory over Knighton Town in the Welsh Cup, a club record.
Derek featured in Cardiff City’s first venture into European competition. He played in the team that reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup scoring the winning goal against Sporting Clube de Portugal in the second round.
Further injuries curtailed Derek’s appearances for Cardiff City. At the beginning of the 1965-66 season he joined Newport County. However, he left that club at the end of that season and moved into non-league football where he played until his retirement in 1970.
On his retirement, Derek could look back at successful spells with Arsenal and Cardiff City, for whom he scored 102 goals in 234 appearances. He could also look back at an illustrious international career, representing Wales.
After only one appearance for Arsenal, Derek was named in the Wales squad for a match versus Austria. He made his debut on 9 May 1954 in Vienna. Austria won 2–0. Nine consecutive appearances followed as Derek established himself in the Wales team.
Derek scored his first international goal on 22 October 1955 during a 2–1 win over England. In the 1959 British Home Championship he scored in the final two matches of the competition, against England and Northern Ireland. From 14 appearances for Wales, Derek scored one other goal, at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on 23 November 1955 against Austria.
After football, Derek worked for sports goods companies Gola and Diadora. He published his autobiography, Tappy: From Barry Town to Arsenal, Cardiff City and Beyond, in 2004.
Derek died on 12 June 2008. In 2012, Barry Town inducted him into the club’s Hall of Fame.
As ever, thank you for your interest and support.
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