Railway Poem W.G. Hoskins Malcolm Saville Saffron Walden Poem for Doddy
Sir: The article about the Looe Valley Railway Line in Cornwall (“English Excursions”, Spring 2016) reminded me of the poem “Travelling” by Bernard Moore (pseudonym of Samuel Syrus Hunt, 1873 – 1953). It captures the peaceful setting of the Looe Valley line — as it still is today. Sir: I was interested in “A Wander Through the Welland Valley” (Winter 2015) having found that the piece was inspired by the author W.G. Hoskins, who was a cousin of mine.
“Bill” as we knew him, was a talented man, he wrote 19 books about the geographical history of mainly Devon and the nearby counties. He was a Doctor of Philosophy in Leicestershire. He was also considerably older than me. My father moved to Cornwall and we used to go to Exeter regularly for summer holidays where Bill Hoskins and his three brothers lived in the baker’s shop, owned by the family. — Sir: “My Beloved Books” (Spring 2016) mentioned Jane’s Country Year by Malcolm Saville. Many of us, of a certain vintage, remember Malcolm Saville’s books with pleasure and your readers might like to know that there is a thriving Malcolm Saville society in existence, which can be accessed through their website www.witchend.com or through facebook www.facebook. com/malcolmsaville . — Sir: I enjoyed the article on Saffron Walden (“Aspects of English Towns”, Spring 2016). It is only 12 miles from where I live so I am able to pay it frequent visits.
Mention of its lovely old town hall evokes happy memories. It was here that I used to listen to Rab Butler speak at election times. Those of us who knew him agree with the saying that he was “the best Prime Minister we never had”. Incidentally, he was MP from 1929 to 1965. — Sir: Let us hope that it won’t be too long before Ken Dodd (“Post Box”, Spring 2016) gets the acknowledgment that he so richly deserves.
Now is the time for Doddy to get back some of the happiness that he has spent his life giving to others. — VALERIE
BRAITHWAITE, HARROW WEALD, MIDDLESEX. *What lovely sentiments. I am sure Ken will be discumknockerated! — Ed.
Doreen Mundy, Esher, Surrey:
My first car was a Morris Eight Tourer, which I bought in 1960 for £14. I made seat covers out of fancy curtain material to hide the holes, but could do nothing about the soft top that leaked like a watering can in the rain. The car managed to do some quite long journeys, but one day, travelling down the A1, the chain broke, slicing through the engine causing steam, water and oil to pour everywhere. So I had to say goodbye to it and catch the train down to London.
B.P. Colston, Ilminster, Somerset:
I have been fascinated by the “My First Car” series and I enclose a photograph of mine (see below), a 1929 Morris Minor four-seat tourer. I am now 94 and left school in July 1939, aged 18. My mother was in hospital and the family summer holiday had to be cancelled, so my father asked my younger brother and I what we would like to do. I asked if I could have a car and go camping with my brother, so the secondhand car market was searched and the final choice was between the Morris, priced £10, or a 1931 MG Midget at £12.10s. Inevitably it was the Morris that won. It was a great little car and we stored our camping gear on the back seat.
We had a wonderful time touring the whole of Wales. I remember passing through Brecon and seeing the first Militiamen in their navy blazers and grey flannels. We reached Snowdonia and came back through Cheshire to our home near London. War was declared shortly afterwards and I left home to join the RAF. My father sold the car for £1 as it was: “...in the way”. I still have fond memories of that great little car.
Bill Waterfield, Brisbane, Australia:
There comes a time when you need a car as there is only so much you can do with a bicycle when the family starts to grow. Having our own “little ones” we felt it was time to join the motoring brigade, so in 1962, for £400 I purchased my first car, a 1960 Mini, registration number 70 BOU.
Looking back I see how it changed our life. I think the car was Mini in name only as I well remember taking the family away for a week on the coast. There was my wife, Ann, and I, Susan who was two-years-old and Martin not yet one year. Our luggage was distributed in every corner of the car with the pushchair on the roof!
Driving to London in the rush hour was no fun, but I recall on more than one occasion “bouncing” the back of the Mini to fit it into a very small parking place!
On migrating to Australia in 1964 I sold Mini. I did consider taking 70 BOU with us, but we were advised that it would not be a suitable car for Australian conditions; time has shown this was not good advice.
During a period of company cars there was a need for a second car and after a Mazda, Ford Laser and a Barina we went back to Mini and so, in 2008, we purchased our second Mini.
With retirement came the realisation that we didn’t really need two cars and so along came the third Mini, with five doors! The registration number for the latest Mini is the same as those of “My first car”, 70 BOU, personalised plates purchased by my daughter for my 85th birthday!
The pictures enclosed (see above) show the 1962 Mini with our two-year-old daughter, Susan, and the 2015 Mini with Susan 50 years on.
Why choose another Mini? Well, they say you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy!
By Christmas of the same year Freddie’s formality had vanished never to reappear. He signed himself “Fred”, called her “Effie”, and thanked her “for each kindly word, each silent token that teaches me, tho’ no word be spoken.”
The following summer he became ill. Effie rallied with an obscure book about British violin makers for him. But formality with her persisted.
“To Frederick A. Parker, with best wishes for entertainment and comfort during the holiday at Bridlington and a speedy return to health and strength. From Effie W. Lewis.”
But she nonetheless added: “Be noble! And the nobleness that lies in other men, sleeping but never dead, will rise in majesty to meet thine own…”
The books began to fly fast and furious. Birthdays, New Years, Christmases, Easters were all marked by an exchange of volumes each with an effusive message.
In 1909 Fred was her “ever grateful and affectionate friend” as he recalled “such gloriously happy times together, sunshine midst many showers.”
Effie, however, remained formal. Even by 1913 she still wrote his full name although wished him “the happiness you so highly deserve” and signed herself fully.
Fred was too old for the 1914-18 war and continued to attend to his clients.
Fred and Effie became a familiar sight in Grimsby. They did their rounds together, worked together in the office and, at the end of the day, retreated to Effie’s house where she had converted her “parlour” into an unofficial office of her own.
They were an old-fashioned couple even in the Twenties and Thirties. Freddie, a shortish stocky man with a square-set jaw and a handsome face, always sported a Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers, stout shoes and a trilby. His clothes were meant for all weathers, for walking and for his bicycle.
Effie, taller than Freddie and stately — “a bit like Queen Mary”, one colleague remembered — was, nevertheless, a dull sight in her long coats and all-enveloping hats, and, like Freddie, opted for the durable rather than the fashionable.
Their commission-only work was not easy, the weather not always kind and the competition progressively fiercer.
Effie, the dutiful and kindly daughter, looked after her ageing parents, reporting to her father the rise and rise of the Britannic and keeping him closely in touch with the company that had been his life.
In the summer of 1934, John George Lewis died quietly at home. He was 77. Just three years later, her mother, Mrs. Rebecca Lewis, then 78, also died. Effie was, for the first time, alone. Fred’s company became increasingly important. The books, which they would sit and read together at Effie’s house, were their greatest consolation…those and the company.
In 1920 Fred described them as “the best of comrades”; 10 years later he had not changed his opinion. In 1937 he wrote to her: “May you live long to be blest and to be a blessing” and chose yet more poesy for Christmas 1944 as yet another world war ground to a close.
“To Effie,” he wrote. “May she have such gladness of eyes and heart that nothing shall mar her sweet serenity; and that Christmas and the New Year be but stepping stones to more fullness of life. Fred.”
In 1947, more than 40 years after they had first met, he marked her birthday in the usual way. He quoted Ruskin: “The perfect loveliness of a woman’s countenance can only consist in the