An Old Story

Someone brought a box of coins in today. It contained various cupro-nickel crowns, some decimal sets (as given out to every British schoolchild when we went decimal), a selection of creased ten-shilling notes and a few foreign coins. They were worth about £8. Fortunately there was a sovereign in the box, which is worth around £300 at the moment. You would have thought they would be pleased, but no, not a flicker. Not a hint of a ghost of a smile. They took all the stuff away.

Fortunately the day improved when I turned WordPress on and read a message from a new cousin who has found me via my family history posts. I really must get my family history stuff sorted out.

I’m now watching the Great British Bake Off, and have offered to make Julia a cake to celebrate our 31st Wedding Anniversary. She laughed. Ironically. It’s possible she remembers the last time I baked. You may remember the Courgette Cake from a few years ago. I’m trying to forget it. Anyway, we agreed that we could probably celebrate the anniversary without cake.

In the morning I looked up the recipient of a medal someone had brought into the shop yesterday. He had joined up in 1914 and served in France with one of the public school battalions – they were like Pals Battalions but composed of men from public schools. In early 1916 his battalion was disbanded and they were sent off to get commissions. He returned to France, won the Military Cross and was killed in action in early 1917. The address on his medal card shows his father as next of kin, though there is a pension record card, implying that he was married. There is also a record of him sailing to America in 1912, though he was obviously back by 1914 to enlist.

It all becomes clear when you look into the newspaper archive. He has a distinctive name and it crops up in three newspapers in 1912. It seems he was in a sanitarium with TB and became very friendly with one of the nurses, very friendly…

When she became pregnant he promised to marry her but instead, left for the USA. The three newspapers carried details of court proceedings where he was ordered to pay three shillings and sixpence a week for his daughter’s maintenance until she was sixteen, which explains the military pension.

It just goes to show what you can find, even if the story is over 100 years old.

17 thoughts on “An Old Story

  1. tootlepedal

    I enjoyed the bake off but it doesn’t tempt me to make cakes. I stop at biscuits. They have got a good ‘cast’ this year.

    Interesting research on your medallist.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I think they let the wrong one go this time. She baked one bad cake. The other likely evictee is intensely irritating every week and that, in my view, is worse than one soggy cake.

      Biscuits still need skill, as some of my efforts prove. By omission.

      If only I could go back to the point in time when the bitter ex-metal work teacher/careers master stopped my ambitions to be a history teacher by shouting “everybody says teaching when they can’t think of anything, don’t waste my time”.

      Would I trade my miserable and unsuccessful life for the teaching career I wanted?

      That’s worth a post of its own…

      1. tootlepedal

        It depends on how good a teacher you would have been. My report card says: Could have done better. This is a source of dissatisfaction to me when looking back.

      2. quercuscommunity Post author

        That depends on what standard you measure yourself against. I imagine your “could do better” was measured against a high standard and that you did a large amount of good in your career.

        I delivered a couple of hundred sessions to kids when we were on the farm and had complaints about three or four of them. One because a parent took exception to something I muttered to myself, two for being a bit sharp with the kids and I’m sure there was a fourth but I can’t remember what it was about. Those are the ones that I dwell on, I admit, but I did deliver some good sessions too and taught a lot of kids some useful stuff about baking, pizza, soup, foraging and easting worms.

  2. jodierichelle

    Ah, The Great British Bake Off – that is a popular one here on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet, because with my husband, myself and my 22 year old daughter in the house, we have to watch what suits us all (very little). Laney and I like “Call the Midwives,” but turn it off when Michael walks in. Michael and I watch “Frasier.” The whole family (all kids included) like “The Office.”

    So interesting about the search you did! I thought that the internet only tracked our current every move. I didn’t know that the pre-internet goings on was all on there too. Sheesh. And they didn’t even know they had to behave themselves because it would be online forever.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I subscribe to a newspaper archive and it has revealed details of things like my great-great-uncle Moses being taken to court and being too drunk to plead. When he was sober next day he apologised. 🙂


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