I’ve just had a hit from someone looking for Colony Holidays… Sooo I’d better write this down fast! I’ve been meaning to do it for a while.
A few years back I fished around on the web to find out what had happened to the CCHS, Council of Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren. I wanted my final child to have a crack at it. I found it had morphed into ATE by getting in touch with Chris in his last tenure of office, but to my eternal chagrin, all my kids have now grown up and missed the benefit of a Colony Holiday like I did, something that I went on half-a-dozen times when I was at school. The last child never made it and is now too old….
I’ve just read this article in the Telegraph which describes the organisation and all the real fun and confidence that children get from it. True, my children had their times at our local council’s place, Kilve Court Residential Educational Centres, but when I visited – well it just wasn’t the same.
It lacked the joie and the vivre. The madcap antics and bizarre quests. The nutty tunes, most of which I can remember, and the practical tasks and games.
Tubby the Tuba
I spent many a time up there on bizarre hunts and quizzes. In total I went to;
- Bredenbury Court
- The Abbey (Little Malvern/Malvern Wells) – 4 weeks at that one, the best year of my life.
- Ramsey, Isle of Man (forgotten the name)
- Inverliever Lodge, Argyll
I think I had one other but it’s slipped my mind.
The important thing, I now realise, is the amount of work that Chris Green did. The centres were dotted all over the country, and usually three or four were on the go concurrently – all summer if need be. I think at the peak, maybe seven centres were running at the same time. You could tell this from the catalogue.
Someone once said to me, “Hey. I bet Chris Green is coming. He always comes to every camp. He makes sure of it.”
I said, “Who’s Chris Green?”
He said, “It’s the guy that runs it. He’s Tubby the Tuba and nobody is supposed to know!!!”
It was at this point I realised that I had indeed seen Tubby the Tuba running over the Malvern Hills to British Camp, hiding (not very well) in bracken and heather around Inverliever Lodge, and yes, even on the Isle of Man. True, he’d be doing his checks, staff and all, but it was the effort that I noticed at that point.
When I say Tubby the Tuba – it really was the same man, dressed almost head to toe in stiffened gold foil, face hidden, arms poking out the side, hands playing the valves at front, making muffled farty noises as he passed on the next clue.
The ramblers and holidaymakers didn’t know what to say… it was just sooo funny. A bit like Gert Frobe in “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” – but covered in a gold tuba costume, of course!
So hats off to Chris Green and Tubby the Tuba. A life well spent!
When I get time, I’ll write some ‘lyrics’ out here and try and get the tune out as an mp3 to give a taste of them. I well remember doing the tongue-twisting ‘Poor Old Man Crossing the Road’, ‘Old Abram Brown’ and others on the platform of New Street Station on the way home with my new found friends. Then, as the journey lengthened, the party would get smaller and the volume quieter until eventually there was only me in Newcastle.
I’d stop singing then.
It gets a bit daft singing “steam engine with a chimney that sends smoke signals to Ceylon” repetitively on the 403 back to Ashington.