Regular reader Gerry Bixley has found someone who fits my Somebody category; someone who does something when nobody else seems to bother.  

Unfortunately this Somebody has yet to be found. 

Gerry writes: “A school crossing site is situated at Hermitage Road St John’s, staffed by a gentleman. This is between The Surrey pub and Wickes warehouse and is in a particularly dark area enclosed by trees. 

‘‘From autumn to winter there are huge quantities of leaves deposited as they fall, making it very wet and slippery. 

The patrol man brings with him a broom and diligently sweeps the paths clear at his operating site, surely beyond the call of duty for a pretty awful job at times. Deserves a mention.”

I agreed, and asked if Gerry had further information, but it is an area he drives through and has now reported the Somebody is no longer to be seen. Evidently he works for the Catholic Junior School and term there has now ended. 

So perhaps someone there knows the identity of this broom-armed Somebody?


I mentioned that The Lightbox is one of the Warm Hubs in Woking. I have now been told that Woking Borough Council (WBC) erroneously listed it on their website, instead of The Lighthouse; I warned you of muddling the two of them! 

Even if not a listed Warm Hub, The Lightbox is a good place to go and make use of the heating, the Wi-Fi and the toilets. And, of course, the exhibitions.

I suggested that visitors check out the history of Woking – too many people don’t believe that Woking has one, although the report in the issue of December 14 of this paper telling of ‘Ancient settlement found under Wisley A3 junction’ may give some doubters the pause. 

A while ago I was on duty in Woking’s Story, the museum part of The Lightbox. A couple from overseas came in and wandered around and I chatted with them. They thought the gallery was amazing and duly wrote on the comments sheet: “We have never been so surprised by a town’s interesting history nor have we ever had such lovely staff welcome us in”.

I only put that last bit in because I was the “lovely staff” so why should I not mention it?

I have been a volunteer for The Lightbox before it was The Lightbox. I was there in 1992 when a group of interested locals got together, including the Woking History Society, and clamoured for Woking to have a museum. 

Even when that had been agreed, and there would be an arts and crafts section to it, there were so many hoops to jump through. 

Recently I mentioned that the current site of The Lighthouse in Woking High Street had been mooted for the site of the new Woking museum and arts and crafts centre society – WMACCS as it was known for a while. 

Other sites had been looked at and all turned down for a variety of reasons, including one vacant shop which was sold to a retailer before WMACCS could move in.

So it was with an enormous sense of relief that the WBC eventually took notice of the peripatetic would-be WMACCS and suggested building what is now The Lightbox on that awkwardly shaped piece of land. 

And it became a success, with great exhibitions and the ongoing exhibition of pieces from the Ingram Collection, and the local history collection.

Along the way it picked up the Queens Award for Volunteers, The Big Society Award, and the inaugural Art Fund Prize in 2008 as Museum of the Year .

There are some 200 volunteers helping out in many different ways from meeting and greeting, stewarding the building, looking after and researching Woking’s history, helping to run the various workshops, and even gardening in that lovely courtyard overlooking the Basingstoke Canal.

Now there is a very real danger that WBC will withdraw its funding. For Woking to loose its museum and gallery would underline, in very heavy black marks, the fact that The Lightbox is not failing but WBC is.

Chobham has a museum. It is jammed full of interesting items and information. It is housed in what was the public convenience. 

What would it say about Woking if The Lightbox building became derelict and its contents wedged in alongside charity shops?


Earthquakes, wind, erupting volcanoes, floods: earth, air, fire and water. All are in rather too much abundance of late.

I have felt a few earthquakes in my time. The biggest was in Bali at night when dogs howled and curtains blew up to the ceiling. My two elder girls felt it stongly. The youngest slept through it. 

On another occasion we were in California and I felt a tremor but the rest of the family did not believe me, until we asked other people: yes, there had been a tremor.

Visiting friends in California we noted that ornaments were stuck to shelves to keep them from tumbling during the not-infrequent tremors there.

Luckily we don’t get earthquakes in this country! But we do. We have, in Woking, felt tremors from as far away as the West Country and the Midlands. 

Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh is a volcano: it last erupted some 350 million years ago. 

Just recently, in Woking, there was an unidentifiable rumbling in the early hours. 

Were we just on the edge of an airliner’s footprint? Was the forecasted high wind coming towards us? Was it thunder? Was there a fleet of HGVs on a nearby motorway? 

I do know that an earthquake sounds like a heavy lorry rumbling on a road nearby. I still don’t know what caused the rumbling, and I was not alone in reporting it. 

Do earthquakes only occur at night? It has been the case with all the tremors I have felt, but that is the time I was lying relaxed in bed and any traffic noise had ceased. 

So when was the last earthquake in England? Out came the phones. Yesterday. And before that? The day before that! There are between 20 and 30 earthquakes felt in this country each year, according to data from the British Geological Survey, with hundreds of smaller ones recorded by sensitive instruments. 

Perhaps I am a sensitive instrument, but I shall not be losing any sleep over that fact. 

Indeed, I am more likely to roll over and slumber on.


Did you send off your old, unused, stamps and have them replaced by the new-style ones? 

I read the small print and saw that special-issue stamps would still be legal. That was good, as I had bought quite few for last Christmas, knowing (so I thought) that if any were left over they would do for the next year. 

Then we were told to bring out our old, now dead, stamps in exchange for shiny new ones. 

It sounded like a scene from an Aladdin pantomime. I got several pounds’ worth of the new issue in exchange for my old ones, but this year I have been using the 2022  Chrstmas issue on my cards. 

None of my friends have yet complained that the postman tried to get payment out of them saying the stamps were old issue and should not have been used. 

I may have a few left over for next year – will those rules still apply?

We were intrigued to receive a package from my daughter in the Netherlands. It bore no stamp but, in her handwriting, several numerals. 

The package contained Christmas cards for hand delivery. She later explained that she has weighed the package and, online, received a code – those numerals – which showed she had paid the relevant dues so all she had to do was pop the package in the postbox. 

Simple! Just sad if you collect foreign stamps.


At parties it is not always easy to hear every word spoken to you. 

Sometimes you are reduced to hoping you are reading aright the body language of the person talking to you and nodding, or shaking your head, at the appropriate times. 

Thus a recently misheard statement led to some interesting research.

Talk had been about the rush to get everything ready for Christmas whilst doing a nine-to-five job which was never nine to five but erred considerably at both ends of the day. Coupled with having children and a home, stress loomed and the party was an ideal time to relax a little among very good friends. 

Thus when someone commented that the following day was not a ‘‘school day’’ and said “good, I would love a lie in” those last two words became ‘‘lion’’. After giggles about picturing the tired woman snuggling up to a lion someone commented on the Woking lion. “No way!” was the comment of many, whilst “Yes, really” was the comment of others. 

Out came those phones. Yes, really, Shane, the Lion King of Woking. The story was written up in this paper for May 17, 2020 – it is a story which David Rose followed.

The lion was named Shane, it was kept as a pet by a Woking taxi-firm boss, in a double-decker bus. 

This was back in the 1970s but, presumably, before the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act was passed. Part of the Act states that no person may keep any dangerous wild animal except under the authority of a licence granted by a local authority. Perhaps having a hackney carriage licence was thought to make it OK?

Ron Voice, then in his 20s, bought a three-week-old lion cub from a pet shop in Birmingham. During the day the lion sat in a van parked outside Ron’s business in Chertsey Road. At night Shane shared its owner’s bed and evidently both slept soundly. Shane grew, as lions are prone to do, and weighed some 14 stones.

It was reported that parents lifted children to peer at the lion in Mr Voice’s van. But some reckoned the lion was becoming dangerous as it grew, and the RSPCA was receiving concerned calls about its welfare. But Mr Voice said: “He does not know any other life. How can it be cruel if he doesn’t know any different?”

Shane took things into its own paws when, on March 2 1976, Mr Voice had tethered the lion to the bumper of his parked van. Walking by, on her way to work, was accountant Poppy Hull. The sight of her fake leopard-skin coat was too much for the lion to ignore and it broke free.

This was big catnip for The Daily Mirror which reported the story under the headline ‘Why the wildcat of Woking went potty over Poppy’.

A report in the Birmingham Post stated the incident happened in Chertsey Road and that Mr Voice pulled the lion off Miss Hull. It added that police took details, but it was understood that action was unlikely to be taken, quoting a spokesman who said there was “no legislation controlling this sort of thing”.

Mr Voice’s secretary, Miss Carol Butler, was quoted as saying: “He has him as a pet because he is different. He’s never hurt anyone. Shane is very friendly. We all love him.”

She and another woman later launched a petition to save the lion’s freedom. 

Although it was signed by 700 people, at a hearing on March 23, 1976, High Court Judge Sydney Templeman banned the lion from being exercised in public, unless caged. Coincidentally the good judge’s son, Michael, is a licensed lay minister at Horsell church.

So did Shane, who turned out to be a lioness, live out its life caged? Or in a safari park somewhere? The trail has grown cold.