Here we go with our first effort of 2021, starting as usual with some of the feedback received regarding recent TRM's.

I had this from old Milfordian, Alan Scard, now living in Llanelli.

" Hi Jeff..last night I woke up at 4 am and felt wide awake.

"Abandoning efforts to go back to sleep, I took a look at my Smartphone by the bedside to see what was happening in the world. Almost immediately I came across a photograph of Mr Backhouse's music shop in Charles Street.

I recognised it straight away, as it had been just two doors down from where I used to live. I then realised that the photograph was there because it was part of your TRM about Milford.

I, of course, read the article, and was glad to see that you were still writing in the paper.

It then made me reflect more on Mr Backhouse and the shop itself.

It was always a most interesting shop with the windows full of musical instruments, covers of LP records of both popular and classical music and also sheet music.

Inside the shop there was also a lot more to see and, at the counter, there was a vast collection of "78" playing records containing all the latest line of pop music.

I remember going to the shop also for music exams, when I was about eight or nine. For anybody learning to play the piano, there was a periodic testing, whereby you had to pay for an examiner, and were awarded grades.

Maybe I imagined myself playing for large audiences one day...or maybe I had been listening too much to "Sparky's Magic Piano," which was popular in the late 40s and early 50s.

Then there was Mr Backhouse himself..a very nice, friendly man with a hearty and distinctive laugh.

In your article you talk also about Scotch Bay and Milford Beach.

One day, in about 1955 or thereabouts, I wrote a note (copy attached) and put it in a bottle (closed jam jar actually) and threw the bottle out into the water off Slip Beach. Given that the entrance to the docks is close by, and given that there was always a high volume of marine vessels, particularly trawlers, coming and going through the dock gates, the chances were that the bottle would not have gone far without meeting with some early fate.

However, six months later I received a letter from a one Donald Singleton, who had found the bottle washed up by the tide on a beach in Cumbria.

He sent me back my note, together with a letter from himself and, being about the same age as me, we corresponded for a number of years (by normal mail as the bottle route might have been a bit unreliable in the long run!)

Thanks Alan, and also for the snap of your "message in a bottle"...I'm including an ancient photo of the beach from which you launched it.

Then came this Email from Margaret Lloyd.

"Well Jeff, I had a good laugh reading your column today, "Fifty shades of Scotch Bay" and your escapade in the Royal "femme fatale."

I worked with Dai Wigham many years ago at Ken Jones Accountants, which was then above Warringtons. Great days."

Cheers Margaret, I'd forgotten that my old mate "Wiggy" once worked there.

And from John Gillespie, came this Email.

"Hi Jeff..just thought I'd let you know that I enjoyed your TRM column last week. It brought back so many memories.

I remember Jack Byford's coffee bar, where we drank ice-topped cokes out of bottles served by Jack and, I believe, his daughter.

"There used to be a sort of gambling machine there, where you put threepenny bits in to try and win money. I think he had to remove this because it fell foul of gambling restrictions. Perhaps your memory is better than mine in this matter!

Also, at Backhouse's. which I remember being slightly musty, I bought my very first single record You don't have to be a baby to cry by a girl duo called "The Caravelles."

I can only think that your cross-dressing sailor must have frequented The Royal on more than one occasion, because it is one of my abiding memories seeing him standing at the bar.

I used to love The Royal, Maureen was like some sort of Goddess to us boys, and I also remember her husband, who I think was called Fred.

They left The Royal to take over The Observatory in Hakin, I believe, when it was converted from a residential house to a pub/hotel. I think that they ended up hosting a pub in Herbrandston, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, I'm also sure that your memory is better than mine and you will be able to confirm or correct my memories."

Thanks John...I don't think my brain cells are any livelier than yours, but I can confirm that Maureen finished off owning the Sir Benfro in Herbrandston.

And I'm pleased you've confirmed my Royal "Lola" memory - proving that these tales of mine aren't just figments of my imagination.

Here's a snap of "The Obs."

Finally, following our recent recollections of groups that played Pill Social Centre in the Sixties, I had a call from Milford's Bobby Oughton, who recalled a particular gig which involved The Blackjacks when they played there.

At the time, Bobby was rhythm guitarist with the hugely popular local group..The Vampires, who were the support band.

Bobby recalled being amazed when the Blackjacks, who, after setting up all their gear ready, told them that to save them the bother of doing the same, the Vampires were welcome to use all of the Blackjack's super stuff...which led to him that night playing one of the music world's elite guitars, a Fender Stratocaster...aka "A Strat"...

Cheers Bobby, here's a snap of the Vampires, who were..from L-R..Mac Wooton, Billy Jenkins, Andrew (Chuffo) James, Kevin Westlake, Bobby Oughton and Phil Davies.

Now, for all those who enjoy our TRM teasers, here's a monetary one.

I have a large money box 10" wide and 5" tall. Roughly how many 50p coins can I place until my money box is no longer empty?

Next week I'll be returning to Alan Phillips' recollections of his time at Milford's RNAD.

I leave you with this know you've reached a certain age when you find yourself telling people what a pint of beer and a loaf of bread used to cost.

Take care.