Rail­way Poem W.G. Hoskins Mal­colm Sav­ille Saf­fron Walden Poem for Doddy

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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

Fred and Effie on their rounds.

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