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He volunteered to take part, unpaid, as a Cavalier in pageant. Iím not quite sure how this happened but I think it was as a result of taking part in that pageant that he got a job. Perhaps it was through drawing attention to himself favourably that somebody put him forward for the job. Maybe Iíve got it wrong. I donít know. Before I move on I need to do some more backtracking.

It occurs to me that I talked about what I knew of my fatherís early life but not my motherís. Her father, my grandfather, ran a village newsagentís shop. Before that he had most probably worked down a pit. He was active in union and community affairs. I regarded both of my grandfathers as men of probity. The interesting thing there is that Grandad Lander had a son (Dad) who got a girl into trouble (my mother) in 1917 eventually marrying her.

One of his daughters, Emmie, lived with a very nice chap called Frank Worth but for some reason they couldnít marry, possibly he was already married and couldnít get a divorce. Although people did live together it was rather scandalous Ė frequently referred to as married but not churched. So she was known for most of her life as Mrs Worth. Mum had a rather sad letter from her soon after Frank died saying how understanding the undertaker had been (because she was really Miss Lander).

Dadís other sister, Mabel, had an abortion in the 1930s, which was an illegal operation then. She died as a result of it in a private hospital and Grandpa had to go along with the fictitious death certificate which said she died of appendicitis. Iíve already mentioned how my other grandfather found out late in life that he, himself, was illegitimate!

My mother helped in the shop. They had a pony and trap for the deliveries. She was very fond of the pony and very upset when it had to be put down. One day a fox came into the house and ran along the mantelpiece. Her mother had several children but when she was 40 she dressed in black, put on a little lace mob cap and became a little old lady and virtually retired.

I donít know much more about my motherís early life. Les or Mabs told me that she was engaged at one time but her fiance was killed in World War 1. Then, of course, she met Dad in 1917 and you know the rest. He was at a convalescent home for officers in Cheshire. Mum had a relative who worked on the estate and spent a holiday there. She said she met Dad at a party where he played the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana on what she called a flute. That disappeared along the way and when Dad could replace it 20-30 years later he bought an E flat fife so perhaps that was what he had in 1917. At one time Mum worked as a nurseís aide in a hospital. Discipline was strict and it upset her that she wasnít allowed to comfort the children.

Also before I move on back to Hersden in Kent. Whilst there Les and I were invited to spend two weeks in Durham with Auntie Jennie. Thinking about it I suspect that Grandpa Johnson sent the money for that trip because he wanted to try to heal the rift between his daughters. Dad took us to London, psobably by bus and then on a train. On the train we were able to see from a newspaper held by a man opposite that there had been a terrible bus crash with 20-30 people killed. That didnít exactly inspire us but our bus to the north made it safely. It slowed as it passed the crash scene and we were able to see the burned out wreckage.

Uncle Ernie was a blacksmith in a village called Knitsley. I liked to watch him shoeing horses and he let me pump the bellows for the forge. At some times in the past heíd acted as Assistant Hangman for executions at Durham Prison. He never talked about this and I never asked. I suspect that he was probably pushed into it by Jennie for the money. They had a son a bit older than Les. Stan was a nice lad and I liked him. He was a talented artist and did excellent pencil drawings. I went up there a second time without Les and I think it was at that time he was ready to leave school and anxious to go to art school but Jennie wouldnít let him. He got a job in a steelworks, most probably as a clerk. Later I think he spent most of his adult life working in a colliery office and he died in his 60s. What a waste of potential. next