The day Canaries legend and Keith Skipper cried together
PUBLISHED: 16:55 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:55 11 September 2019
Keith Skipper is enjoying September in Norfolk so far
Over the bridge of sighs to ambling autumn, season of moody mists and mellow gleefulness.
Yes, the annual pilgrimage brings just enough serenity, silence and space to take stock, especially along the magnetic north Norfolk coastal beat.
Listen very carefully and you must hear those usual cries of relief at the end of another bumper-to-bumper season of working overtime to love a special place to death…
■ From jaded parents so pleased to hand back their children to rejuvenated teachers who can't wait for the next rounds of inspections, tests, changes and results.
■ From poor old farmers, barns full to remind them seedtime and harvest do keep on a'troshin' despite the best efforts of politicians who can't tell wheat from barley.
■ From tractor drivers, able again to go for a short spin down a country road without attracting every vehicle in Norfolk driven by a tearaway candidate for Top Gear.
■ From uplifted vicars, excited at the prospect of their largest congregations since Easter and a chance to tell backsliders there's room for all to be safely gathered in.
■ From Cromer pedestrians on the verge of writing to Marco Polo for travelling tips after four months of trying to cross the road without a nervous breakdown.
■ From seaside traders who can now stop pretending it's just one great big jolly, juicy jackpot of a jamboree from May until August. Time for a quiet stroll and ice-cream.
■ From all right-minded natives, refusing to feel guilty for simply feeling good about having the old place back to themselves for a special while. Clarity begins at home.
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There are other good reasons for misquoting Robert Browning with "Oh, to be in Norfolk, now that September's there", many of them connected, quite reasonably, with the deification of traditional local virtues.
September's song is sweetest before autumn's longer shawls start slipping over summer's final hours. Green is still a fashionable colour but there are alternatives. Hedges dripping red. Brown fields tend to turn away from the sun but they're not yet ready for frost. Birds begin restless flights.
Mornings turn cool, urging you to make the most of each day if the sun comes out. We hope our gentle reflections will be allowed to play for a while, enjoying the late warmth, the still-fresh splashes of green, the haze of evening. September should never be rushed.
These opening days of my favourite month always remind me how significant September has been along Norfolk's alluring pathway.
I graduated from village classroom to town grammar school in Swaffham on a mixture of bicycle power and railway steam in September, 1955.
I transported joined-up writing skills to Thetford in September, 1962, to fill in first pages of a career as Beeston's first overspill contributor to the town's journalistic ranks.
I exchanged quill for microphone in September, 1980, when the BBC showed commendable taste and vision by extending its local wireless network into Norfolk. My place in the broadcasting team was sealed by an ability to pronounce Happisburgh, Postwick, Roughton, Costessey and Wymondham properly.
Our elder son was born in September, 1986, but his brother held on until the second day of October three years later. They both share an affection for this time of year stretching well beyond birthday bonus thanksgiving.
Just to prove I made good use of my time before they arrived, I scanned my 1984 diary for reminders of September reflections worth noting. The British Association for the Advancement of Science held their annual get-together at the University of East Anglia. The suburbanisation of Norfolk and decline of rural services was a hot topic still a'lingering.
Back to that September songbook and one of the most poignant numbers of my media career. This week 35 years ago, golden sporting memories pushed broadcasting nerves to the limit.
Errol Crossan, one of the stars of Norwich City's epic FA Cup run of 1958-59, flew in from his home in Canada for a grand Canary reunion and a chat on Radio Norfolk. He joined me in the Dinnertime Show dug-out with a clutch of other former Carrow Road favourites.
He hadn't heard The Ballad of Crossan and Bly, an emotional offering written and recorded by my cousin Paul Wyett. Errol fought bravely to hold back the tears, I choked up as well. We recovered admirably for the second half to recall matches that almost led to Wembley.
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