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Charles Clark Frank essays

Cloud wraiths of Douthwaite haunt the black Dove, and drift in mist to the moors…

“That you, lass?”

“Oh!You made me jump! Yes, it’s me, Grandfather. I was just tinkering with some ideas…”

“Hmm. Very atmospheric.”

An awkward silence settles briefly between us.

“Where have you been?”

“Erm, well… away, Grandfather.”

“What do you mean ‘away’? Away where?”

“I, well… er…  we had a couple of week’s holiday in North Yorkshire a little while back!” I offer.

Frowning, he regards me.

Was the lure was bright enough?

“Did you go to Kirkbymoorside again?” he asks, his eyes lighting up for an instant. Then he frowns. “But you’ve been away a lot longer than…”

“Mmm, we stayed in the same place as last year – a farm just outside Kirkby” I interrupt hastily. “Oh, Grandfather, it is so beautiful there. And we had lovely weather!” At this he harrumphs and looks at me “Lovely weather? In the Autumn? In Yorkshire?!” he says with a wry smile. I think he’s swallowed the bait.

“Yes, we were really lucky – it only rained on one day, I think. Unfortunately, it was the day we walked along Douthwaite Dale, although it actually created a wonderful atmosphere – as we walked, wisps of cloud drifted past us like wraiths.” He begins to smile, all thoughts of my absence forgotten. “You were right, Grandfather, it is a marvellous, ‘primeval’ place, and I really felt it hasn’t changed since you learnt to swim by the footbridge over the Dove near the ford at Yoadwath, when you were a boy. Although it’s more overgrown, I guess”

“Ah, lass” he sighs wistfully “Douthwaite Dale.”

“We took up your invitation in ‘A Corner of England’- do you remember it?”

Chrales Clark Frank essay

“As Renfrew says in the Criticisms at the end of the essay – your description makes ‘one wish to go in person and enjoy the beauty of this unspoilt Corner of England’ – and we did!”

“Did you?! Well I’m d——d!” His smile broadens into a grin. ”Ah yes, I seem to recall my fellow SES members were quite complimentary.”

“Well, it is a beautiful description, Grandfather! In fact, we took a copy of the essay with us, and walked as much of the route as we could. Sadly though, we couldn’t access part of the walk, and a lot of the river was hidden by huge trees.”

“That’s a shame, lass.” He pauses. A shadow seems to fall across his face and his smile becomes wistful. I recall the lines from his essay where he begins to reminisce about fishing with friends at the Leg of Mutton Pool:

…with the gathering shadows memories come thronging of all the good fellows who have sat here in the gloaming with me.

“It is a shame, but it was still so lovely. I was really disappointed not to see the Leg of Mutton Pool, though. I think the trees have grown so big they hide it. Anyway – here, let me show you some photos of how it looks now.”

Looking down over the (now extended?) churchyard of All Saints Church in Kirkbymoorside, from Vivers Hill

Looking down over the (now extended?) churchyard of All Saints Church in Kirkbymoorside, from Vivers Hill

Charles Clark Frank essay

View over Kirkby with Ryedale beyond from the top of Vivers Hill. Centre: a grey bay window shows the side of The Petch House (formerly Meadow Way or Bank?) in which CCF’s brother William Parkin (father to CCF’s niece Catherine) lived in one half, and ‘Old Tom’ Parrington lived in the other half.

Charles Clark Frank essays

7  A Corner of England - the overgrown path from the footbridge

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 3

6  A Corner of England - the footbridge

4  A Corner of England - Yoadwath Ford

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 5

8  A Corner of England - view back over the dam and ford towards the Mill House and cottages

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 6

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 7

10  A Corner of England - 'a solemn place'

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 8

Douthwaite Dale b&w postcard

Douthwaite Dale - Extract from A Corner of England 10

Charles Clark Frank essays

A page in the essay ‘A Corner of England’ written in 1928, showing postcards of the Dale at the time, annotated by CCF

Charles Clark Frank essays

Charles Clark frank essays

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Whatever happens I shall never be anything but glad that I did get my chance to go to the War – it robbed me of my good prospects in life, but I am still alive : where so many gave up their lives in all the splendid promise of their youth.


And it might be that in the after time, by reason of my thus having simply done my duty (and God knows that it was also my pleasure!) some one who loves me may say, in charity, that ‘His life had some smatch of honour in it’
.”

So ‘Jottings from my Autobigraphy’ ends. I believe I have come as near to loving someone I’ve never met as may be possible, and now it is “the after time”, and I say – in truth, not in charity – that my grandfather’s life had an abundance of honour in it, and I give thanks for him with all my heart.

*

Can’t help wondering what on earth ‘smatch’ means. It has to be a typo, surely – but no, apparently it’s simply another word for ‘smack’!
There has been a long delay since I was last able to actually work on the essays, but during that time I was aware of a strange mixture of feelings: I’d nearly finished reading them and was keen to complete the circle, but I didn’t want to get to that apparently final point. I was also getting really frustrated that there has been no opportunity recently to get on with it!
Glimpsing my grandfather’s “richly stored and variegated rag-bag” of a mind through his essays has been a hugely rewarding and at times deeply moving experience which I started very reluctantly – and rather erratically – when I brought home several carrier bags crammed with filthy, dusty old papers, sometime in 2010, I think. There are still a few papers to sort, but I believe all the complete essays are now read, scanned, logged, labelled and filed in date order.

So now it is done.

The Essays

The Essays in their serried ranks. Behind are 4 boxes – and many photos to sort!

Or is it? I need to start sorting the photos! But that’s not the last of the essays – in fact, I now feel as though I’m starting a different phase. I shall be re-reading some of them, researching further, and continuing the blog. I wonder where the search will this lead me now?  To Wikipedia  –  and beyond!

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As I read CCF’s later essays, I’m getting a sense of strain and pressure. I’ve just read scanned and logged two more, dated 1931. The first is shorter than usual, ‘King Cups and Brown Water’- written very quickly and up against submission deadline, and ‘Remembrance’, which he actually wrote and submitted to the SES in 1923.
In 1931 CCF was 60 and struggling with the daily grind – including all the joys and difficulties of having a four-year-old son. He probably didn’t know it at the time (although I wonder if he was already wrestling with the notion) but he was to resign from the SES in 1933, as he felt he just could not continue to commit the time or energy to his writing. I think there are only three more essays left for me to read. However – I’m hoping the next session of sorting through the remaining miscellaneous papers might yield more…
‘Anticipations’ which I mentioned a couple of posts ago, was written in the spring of 1931, and delightfully captures its theme:

essays

He is, of course, anticipating a weekend’s fishing – what else! This city-dwelling countryman is joyfully looking forward to revelling in the restorative powers of his natural habitat.

essays

And who can blame him – he reveals that he is currently presiding as temporary Chairman of the Court of Referees in Hull “which is the only tribunal to allow or disallow claims, under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, to the out-of-work benefit, commonly called by the recipients (but not by the Court) ‘the Dole’.” On the day of writing the essay, he had heard – and taken all the notes for – 50 claims, and says his is an “an honourable as well as difficult position” in which he feels like “…a cat walking along a wall newly guarded with broken glass!” He is a solicitor, and is working alongside two barristers.
According to one of the many articles about the inter-war years on the internet, unemployment peaked at around 3 million in 1933 – while England was in the grip of the Great Depression – which was about approximately 20% of the working population. Many of those who had fought for their country were unable to find work.
CCF seems to have been a very altruistic and sensitive person, and being in such a position where “…it must always be borne in mind that every claimant is out of work, and that every decision of the Court is of very grave importance to him or her.” must have been a huge strain – indeed, he mentions his “tired brain and soul”.
No wonder he was looking forward to “getting away into the open air for some days, [and] to feel and hear the water rippling past my waders once more!”

River Dove, Ryedale Yorkshire

Not fishing but eating – a pause in our walk along the River Dove

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