So who is this Trevor Jones? Is he new? And what happened to How Michael? I suppose some of you might be wondering who produced the Nostalgia column a couple of weeks back. Well, actually, it was me – How Michael – writing under my real name. I fancied emerging from anonymity after over 20 or so years as How Michael!

Why did I choose this name in the first place? It seemed like a good idea. This pseudonym had been used some time ago by Howard Chandler, then chief librarian of Workington, when he produced his column. So when I began writing for the paper, after the death of Frank Carruthers, I decided that, as the name “How Michael” hadn’t been used for quite a few years, it seemed quite appropriate to use it. And as I was librarian at Workington at the time, it seemed doubly appropriate.

But, after using my real name, I have skimmed the internet and discovered that there are hundreds of people with the same name listed. So I’ve changed my mind and decided to go back to my nom de plume – there are countless Trevor Joneses but there is only one How Michael.

Now then. Have you noticed that some seasonal customs seem to have changed or vanished? Back in autumn we’d stocked up with sweets in anticipation of answering our front door to a series of often weirdly attired youths or youngsters wanting a “penny for the guy”. We also used to keep a jam jar full of pennies and other small change to hand out to these nocturnal callers. But this year we had nobody knock at our door. Bags of sweets purchased – all for nothing. So, over the next few days, we had to eat them ourselves – it played havoc with my diet.

In passing, when I did dole out a handful of coins a few years earlier, I found them scattered outside our front door. I obviously hadn’t taken any account of the rate of inflation. But have you noticed that some times when you’ve been to a supermarket, some people just can’t be bothered to pick up their small change from off the counter? Can you imagine that happening some 40 or so years ago?

And where have all the carol singers gone – solo singers or small groups of vocalists? Not one was to be heard this past Christmas!

I haven’t been to a wedding for quite some time – in fact, I can’t quite remember that last one my wife and I attended. It’s what happens when you get past a certain age – instead you find yourself attending funerals when friends and relatives pass on.

I can remember that at one local wedding, guests’ cars were surrounded by a number of youths who were there in hope of “shillin oot”. It was advisable to have a quantity of loose change to throw into the road for the youths to scrabble for.

A question here. Does this old practice still take place at local weddings – or, like some other customs, has it faded away?

An account of this practice was printed in the West Cumberland Times in December 1934. The headlines read: “Bridal party ‘held up’” – “Bridegroom pays ransom at Camerton.” Robert James Reay was marrying Maria Irving, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Jos. Irving, of Hillside House, Camerton.

After the couple left the church after the wedding service, the gate from the church grounds was “guarded” and the couple were permitted to leave when the bridegroom had paid the “ransom” – “shillin oot.”

I have come across mention of another wedding at which a particularly mean and sadistic individual who was seemingly quite generous when he flung a quantity of coins into the crowd. Only one problem: he’d heated the coins almost to boiling point. Like much local history, it might well never have happened.

I see that various groups are to get together to “spruce up” Maryport. Quite coincidentally, I have been perusing a piece the Times & Star from back in April 1983 which was headed “Townsfolk campaign for a tidier Maryport”.

Do you remember KBT – the Keep Britain Tidy organisation – very popular at the time? It seems that Maryport folk wanted to do something about the town’s litter problem – especially as they were keen to improve the image of the town for the benefit of future tourists. I know it’s a few years ago, but were you out picking up litter at that time?

Some things never change!