Posts Tagged ‘Grandparent’

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!


Read Full Post »

Imagine a little boy having pepper rubbed into his eyes. As bullying goes, it’s probably on a par with the famous fictional roasting inflicted on Tom Brown by Flashman – but it wasn’t fictional. The incident is briefly touched on by the sixty-year-old adult who was that little boy – my grandfather, author of the unsurprisingly titled essay ‘School Days’ written in 1931.
CCF prefaces the essay with some verse extracted from a longer poem:
Quote from School Days 1
and says he has “more vivid recollections of the masters who taught me than of the boys who were my companions at my various schools”. Interestingly, he names the masters, but the only boy’s name he mentions is his twin brother George. The older boy who bullied him and his two study mates is tantalisingly not named, even though he apparently “became a celebrated runner“!
Grandfather describes his first two schools with lovely whimsical anecdotes. The first was a small village school in Sinnington near his home, where he and his twin were sent when they were 11. They were taught by Reverend John Swalwell, MA, Vicar of Sinnington, who mixed the classics with farming and named his pigs Penelope and Agamemnon. CCF recalls he was “as happy in those eighteen months as I have been in all my life”, and he returned to fish in the River Seven at Sinnington regularly as an adult. (We visited Sinnington village last September before I’d read any of these accounts, and I believe I may have stood in the spot on the bridge where he would have cast for trout.)

Bridge over the River Seven at Sinnington

Bridge over the River Seven at Sinnington

Charles and his twin were then sent to boarding school at Bilton Grange in Harrogate, under the lacklustre headship of Mr Joseph Brown Griffiths BA. CCF’s main studies there seemed to be in bee-keeping which he describes in warm, fond recollections, but his “hum drum career” at the school was dramatically curtailed by an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. Grandfather was untouched by the disease even though he had:
“…spent most of two nights before we were all sent home in giving water to the fellows in our room who were ill. My twin brother George was the only boy who died, though two other boys in our room nearly did so; yet I, who slept with him at home until he became really bad, escaped the disease!”

At the age of fourteen he was sent to boarding school on west coast – Rossall, where the headmaster was Henry Anselm James DD – and declares that the two years he spent there “completely altered my whole life”. He also seemed delighted to have become “a public schoolboy”!

It was a really tough environment, both inside and outside the school, and, as well as bullying, the boys endured harsh conditions generally. Grandfather’s time there was ended when the school doctor made him play football and hockey in winter conditions even though he was clearly ill. He contracted pneumonia which then became “slight tuberculosis”. In spite of all this, and being somewhat lonely, he greatly regretted having to leave:

Quote from School Days 2

TMP gives rich characterisations of the ‘famous men of little showing’ at Oliver’s Mount School, where he was also very happy:

Quote from School Days 3

Quote from School Days 4

Rossall and Bilton Grange still flourish as boarding schools and Oliver’s Mount School apparently became a girls’ school and was renamed.
These far-reaching reminiscences seem to me to show grandfather’s humanity and spirit. He remembers with gratitude all of the people who contributed so greatly to his education, and alongside, he recalls with savage clarity the “dreadful and most wretched memory” of being bullied “devilishly and mercilessly” (while grieving his twin). He states: “if I had not been a very strong boy indeed my sufferings would have broken me.” – and later regrets having to leave the very place where he suffered so greatly. Extrordinary.

Read Full Post »

George was 14 when he died. He was my grandfather’s twin brother. His picture is on the left. The other portrait is:
My youngest brother Stanley, a very prince of fisherman when still in his ‘teens’, the gay hearted and wise young surgeon in the Navy, who died at Chatham when he was only twenty-two.”
And there’s the curious thing – nowhere in any of the essays I’ve read so far, is George mentioned.

George Frank 10.12.1871 - 31.05.1885 and Arthur Stanley Frank, M.B.R.N. 02.09.1877-18.12.1900

George Frank 10.12.1871 – 31.05.1885 and Arthur Stanley Frank, M.B.R.N. 02.09.1877-18.12.1900

In a few of grandfather’s essays, chiefly those concerning fishing or his beloved Yorkshire moors, there are wistful references to holidays or fishing trips with the brothers who had died (a third brother died young, Edwin, at 17 years of age, but I have no portrait of him), but there’s never any mention of George.
There are hints in the essays of grandfather’s childhood as lively and boisterous, and probably quite free-roaming. I imagine it must have been brilliant if the twins were close – which I understand is generally the case – they probably got up to all sorts of mischief. Then, just as they hit their teens George – who was also the oldest boy of the family, died.
When George was just a name and dates on the family tree, the facts were sad enough. But then I started reading the essays, and we found this little picture of George with his direct, even slightly truculent stare, and he began to bother me. The man I am learning to know as my grandfather shows a sensitive, loving, even quite romantic nature, and I wonder about the loss of his twin, especially at such an age – but I wonder more that he never mentions him.

Read Full Post »

At the beginning of the previous century the ‘hitherto secret forces of the Universe’ were tamed, sufficiently to give rise to radio broadcasting, and about a hundred years ago the masses began to listen reverentially to the words of the few. As grandfather observed in an essay:extract from essay

He wrote these lines in 1928 – oblivious to just how ‘common-place a thing in our lives’ broadcasting would become, and radio’s now only a tiny part of it.
The essay is ‘On Public Speaking’ and (in addition to helpful suggestions for success, such as ‘Stand up, speak up, shut up’!) is full of observations about speakers such as Mr Gladstone, Lord Rosebery, Lord Balfour, Lord Charles Beresford, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Curzon; Lloyd George; Stanley Baldwin; Fridjiof Nansen (Norwegian explorer and Nobel Prize winner), and actors including Sir Charles Wyndham, Edward Compton, Sir Henry Irving, and a sweet reference to a speech by Anna Pavlova. He was there. He saw all these people. They were real? But surely they’re just history book characters! I remember getting a similar shock once years ago, when I saw footage on TV of George Bernard Shaw – someone who seemed buried in the mists of time, and there he was on the screen – moving!
The thing I’m finding so enriching about reading grandfather’s essays (three more scanned today – getting there!) is the context – what was happening in the world during the time he was writing.
I’m also amazed at how emotional it can be – I got a bit teary over a rusty paper clip on the essay, which clearly hadn’t been removed since it clipped the papers together 85 years ago. Then a full-blown weep ensued when I read another essay in which his love of his birthplace just shines though – even his fellow SES critics felt it:

Qoute from A Corner of England crit

I never knew any of my grandparents, so it’s very special to have these documents – although it’s an odd feeling, getting to know a relative in this way. Typically, at the end of the essay – he takes a wry pleasure in a typo…

Quote from On Public Speaking - typo

Read Full Post »

Ten years of dog owning means roughly 7,300 dog walks. No wonder I’ve been getting slightly cheesed off with the twice daily chore (credit where it’s due, though – hubby does weekends!) Winter’s worst – it seems no sooner have you returned from the morning plod and cleaned the hairy hound, than it’s time to go out again before the light fails. However, a change is afoot.
Perhaps it’s the coming of Spring with the lightening of the evenings and fattening of buds, but my pleasure in walking the dog is returning – partly because I find the dog walk a great opportunity for mulling over writing ideas. And I’ve shaved her, so she’s a lot less hassle to clean. Only kidding. But I did kinda ‘prune’ her slightly…
Schmaltz alert – non dog-lovers look away now…
I wouldn’t be without her for the world, although I know there will come a day when this will have to be faced. Dogs make such fantastic companions. We weren’t prepared for how much we’d feel for this funny hairy being when we tentatively welcomed her into our lives.
I’ve just read Grandfather’s 1914 essay ‘My Dog’. It’s a cracking description of a little character of a dog he owned, which I think he was pretty soft on.

Qoute from My Dog

In this extract, he also hints at feelings for a girl with brown eyes and I think that it was she who later became his wife. I was always told – as the only brown-eyed person in the family – that I took after my grandmother. It gives me a strange sense of continuity to read it, especially as I never knew any of my grandparents.
Anyway, as is the way with dog-owners, there’s no more time for indulging in this blogging lark, duty calls – there’s a tummy to be tickled…

Jess - tickle my tummy!

Read Full Post »

Steam train

The Swanage Steam Railway. A classic picture? Yes, the engine is pushing rather than pulling the carriages…

On a fabulous weekend recently with all our lovely God-children (and parents and friends!) we went on the Swanage Steam Railway. It ran along track at the bottom of the garden (well, vineyard) where we were staying, and I when I first saw it I nearly came over all Railway Children – sadly, though, I’d left my petticoat at home.Anyway, we waited at a tiny little station called

steam train passengers wating for the train

Waiting at Harman’s Cross Station

Harman’s Cross and when the train chuffed its way to a noisy and stately stop at the platform, we stepped up into carriages through whirling steam, slamming heavy doors behind us. It was really evocative, and I got a sense of how train travel might have been in my grandfather’s time. I even wondered if he and his brothers and sisters used to run onto a bridge to stand in the steam cloud bulging over the parapet as the engine passed underneath as we (almost) did (got the timing a bit wrong, v disappointing)!

The coming of the railway must have been really exciting for my great-grandfather, George Frank. He had considerable business interests in Kirkbymoorside, but still found time to write and publish guides to the local area which ran to several editions. In the preface to ‘Guide to Ryedale’ (3rd edition, 8,000, published 1875) which we think was his first Guide, he wrote:
Now that the Ryedale railway, from Gilling on the Thirsk and Malton branch, to Pickering on the Whitby branch, is completed, this romantic district, so full of beautiful scenery and abounding with objects of antiquity, is brought within the reach of the tourist.
It is the sole object of the writer of this little volume to compile, in as concise a manner as possible, a summary of the numerous places of interest, arranged in such a way that a stranger by its aid may be enabled thoroughly to explore the neighbourhood.”

Front cover of 'Guide to Ryedale' by George Frank, published 1875

Cover of ‘Guide to Ryedale’ by George Frank, published 1875

press reviews and title page of the Guide to Ryedale

The ‘Guide’ was clearly well received by the press…

map of the Ryedale area

Not the clearest of maps, but it was first included in this (third) edition

Kirkbymoorside Station was opened to passengers in 1874, three years after my grandfather was born, and was closed to passengers in 1953 – three years after he died. I think he probably travelled through the station quite a lot, particularly after he’d moved to Leeds, and would have walked the length of the town each time he came home to see his family, as hinted at in ‘My Garden’.

Pictures of the station can be seen at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/k/kirbymoorside/index.shtml, according to which, the town’s station was apparently re-named Kirby Moorside by the North Eastern Railway Company, which was ‘not an uncommon railway practice’- although the original name was restored in 1948.

Read Full Post »

Apparently exam results come out tomorrow – wondering how god-daugter’s feeling. Could probably find out on Facebook, but still avoiding it… I can’t help seeing it as mainly a tool for ‘Them’ to collect data about us all. Also – once you log on – there are so many distractions!

I guess data collection for marketing was just as vital for businesses 100 years ago – I think CCF suffered a lot from having to rebuild his solicitor’s practice from scratch after WW1. He was in his early fifities, had been injured in the War and a PoW for 2 years, newly married and had no clients, and from what I’ve gleaned of this man I never knew, I beleive he wasn’t really the ‘marketing’ type. I confess, thinking about it this morning made me sad to weeping.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: