At 8:30 AM on Saturday 2nd July 2022, thirteen Chumps boarded the bus for the journey way out west to Ulverston for our first visit to the Ulverston Carnival for 30 years! We were looking forward to seeing the sights and meeting up with like-minded Sons from all over the UK, including Chumps Stuart, Denise and Millie, our tent mascot, who were staying in the area, and with Andrew, Dave and Liam who were making their own way there. Anyway, that’s enough from me, how about I hand over to our ‘scribe-in-chief’, Andrew Cobby, for his observations on the day? Mike Jones
Andrew: My BBC weather app said 70% chance of precipitation, so the outlook wasn’t promising as Dave and Liam and I set off from from sunny Teesside bound for Ulverston.
There were a couple of showers and the odd detour on the way there (I’m a useless navigator) but I still get a thrill when I first see the Hoad Monument.
In spite of a traffic jam caused by a broken down lorry just outside Ulverston, we arrived at the Stan Laurel Inn in good time to meet up with others from the Beau Chumps tent.
It was a pleasure to see such an assortment of bowler hats and fezzes. Even the sun had its hat on. There was no sign of precipitation, 70% or otherwise.
I doff my hat to Trudi and all the staff at the Stan Laurel Inn. There were about 20 of us eagerly awaiting lunch and this was delivered in a very organised and friendly way. Great service certainly adds to the atmosphere, doesn’t it? Whether you’re a fan of Stan and Ollie or not (but why would you not be?), I would highly recommend a visit to the pub.
After lunch we visited the house in Argyll Street where Stan was born and spent some of his early years. You know you’ve got the right house because there is a plaque above the door. A plaque is a plaque, and it’s something to be proud of, but I always think that Stan deserves one of those distinctive round blue ones that you see on houses in London.
The house over the road has its own name plate – ‘Laurel View’ and this always strikes me not only as a statement of fact but also as a dry comment on the number of visitors who turn up uninvited and block the pavement. There was a big van parked outside when we got there. In an ideal world it would have been a Model T Ford but we worked round the van. We all huddled in front of the dwelling, blocked the pavement and said cheese.
Then it was off to the museum, albeit briefly. The museum is more spacious and handily placed than its previous incarnation. It is situated at the Roxy Cinema complex, so you can go and see films next door if you want. I particularly like its exterior. There is something about the straight lines and rectangles of art deco that pleases the eye. It also brings to mind a time when lots of provincial cinemas would have looked like that. As if the art deco wasn’t enough, it has a fine mural of the boys on its side wall.
It is my 25th wedding ‘university’ later this year and, as an anniversary present, I am going to have a great big mural of the boys painted on the side of our house. Of course, Betty and Lottie (or even my wife) wouldn’t approve but me, Stan and Ollie would get a kick out of it. And this is the main thing.
We watched a bit of Helpmates at the museum. ”QT’, I love that. I suppose when you think about it, it makes as much sense as ‘OK’.
Then we nipped round the corner, parade-style, to the statue. To be honest, I am not really sure where the parade fitted in as part of a wider celebration of Ulverston. It is not important, though. The sun was out, and I spotted banners from Dirty Work of Wigan, County Hospital of Bradford, Leave ‘Em Laughing of Liverpool and Our Relations of Chester (pictured in the gallery below). Apologies to any that I missed. I think the ‘Ethel’ award for the best sartorial item on display would go to the sashes sported by the Our Relations tent. They looked very classy indeed.
There were a few renditions of the ‘We Are The Sons of the Desert…’ around the statue, and some may even have been in tune. That would matter if it was a singing contest but it wasn’t, so it didn’t. Gary Winstanley, from the Dirty Work tent, was on hand to record the discord for posterity.
It was a fine afternoon so after the singing and photos, I set off in search of some Kendal mint cake for my wife Julie. I was walking down New Market Street and a bloke start doing Tommy Cooper impressions at me. He had obviously seen the fez, put two and two together and made five. I smiled at him but inwardly I was thinking ‘You’ve just made yourself look daft there, mate’. Then I straightened my fez, adjusted my Beau Chumps On Tour T-shirt and went on my way. That, unfortunately, is a true story.
I found the mint cake in ‘Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe’ on Market Street, where the staff were very kind so I also bought some treacle toffee as well. This turned out to be another fine product of Kendal. It’s not Stan’s favourite Beer’s treacle toffee, but the packaging on the product supplied by George Romney Ltd is pleasingly retro, as was the sweet shoppe. Here is a picture of the toffee!
I love going to Ulverston. I first went there on a December Saturday in 1984. Let me see, that will equate to 16 BC (Before Coffee-Shops – I view them as a 21st century thing). I was sitting in a cafe before visiting the museum and two old blokes were seated at either end of the room having a conversation with each other. I have no idea why they didn’t just sit together. The detail of their conversation has been lost but I do recall them saying ‘champion’ a lot.
At Christmas that year I was given the book ‘Laurel before Hardy’. It was the first book on Stan and Ollie that I ever received, given to me by my parents and, for these reasons, it is still my favourite.
I used to study in Lancaster which isn’t all that far from Ulverston and, in 1988, I made a return visit to celebrate the end of exams.
When I first started seeing my wife, we went to Ulverston and my wife sat through the whole of Perfect Day, sitting on those old cinema seats in the old museum. That was in September 1995.
My elder son was born in April 1998 and I seem to remember attending a Laurel and Hardy parade with Dave in Ulverston just before my son was born. I don’t know what the parade was for and I may even have got the timing wrong but there were fans there from the USA and Canada.
We met up with the late Tony Gears, Grand Sheik of the You’re Darn Tootin’ tent of Stillington and we sang ‘Lazy Moon’ during the parade to Argyll Street. That was a good day.
They are some of the memories that the town inspires in me.
Should married men go home? It’s an interesting question and one which, as far as I am concerned, can be answered when I tell you about the phone call I made to my wife before setting off back to Teesside.
I excitedly told her about the parade and the communal singing of the Sons’ song. ‘We are the Sons of the Desert, having the time of our lives….’
My wife’s reaction was ‘Well, I wouldn’t have had the time of my life standing outside some bloke’s house and visiting a dusty museum.’
Excuse Mrs C please, her soul is full of milk.
As usual, she missed the point spectacularly. We don’t have to go to Ulverston. We could just as easily stay at home and watch the boys on DVD.
I seem to find myself out of step with most people so it is always uplifting to be amongst like-minded individuals. Ulverston is a lovely town which is well worth a visit, but I don’t think I’d have ever gone there if it hadn’t been for the Stan Laurel connection.
It was a day of enthusiasm and not being bothered about what onlookers think. Sometimes it is invigorating to feel part of something bigger than yourself. There were colourful costumers aplenty and colourful characters aplentier.
Being in the company of my fellow Chumps is always splendid, and Ulverston and our fellow Sons of the Desert gave us a warm welcome. To quote from those two old blokes from way back in 16 BC, it was champion. There was the great staff, fine fare and good beer at the Stan Laurel Inn, the enthusiastic reception at the museum and a hundred plus Sons from all over the country intent on having a great day. How could you not have the time of your life?
Well, that’s all there is. There isn’t any more. That’s our story and we’re stuck with it … In it. Its imposterous, but here’s a gallery of a few pics on the day. Click on any image to be taken to a slideshow – with the captions below as opposed to on the image – which will also let you download the pic if you want it!
And here are a selection of fellow Chump Jon Moore’s pics taken on the day. Click on the L/R arrows to move through the selection
And Finally: All of the Chumps who attended will be presented with a commemorative badge at the meeting on 13 July 2022. but don’t worry, if you would like one, they will shortly be available from all major retailers …
We hope you liked reading about our wonderful day, and like the pics that we are grateful to several who shared them with us. It has to be said that the much-maligned Mrs Cobby takes even more punishment than usual, so there will probably be Nothing but Trouble if she reads this! If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the box below; We’d love to hear from you and your remarks will receive a response on this page.