Popular Posts

Monday, November 30, 2009

From William Clarke to Grain Surfing

In the English Summer of 2006, my eldest son Matthew was working, as part of his Kiwi OE ('Overseas Experience) on a farm at Draughton, Northamptonshire. The farm covered about 2,000 acres with nary a hedge in sight. Matt loved driving and maintaining the enormous tractors that were employed on the farm - a throwback no doubt to his early introduction to farming in Cheshire as a young boy.

Draughton appears to be a dying village. There are very few locals and it is too far from major towns to be commutable. However, it still has a lovely old church. Its companion Northamptonshire village Weston Favell has met a completely different fate. It has been completely enveloped by the city of Northampton.

Matt was living in a small 2-up, 2-down cottage with another Kiwi 'temporary hand' in Draughton when Jane and I visited him with Sam & Theo. He was working hard, enjoying the local pub - and from the state of the larder - living mainly on Mars Bars. The combines were bringing in massive amounts of wheat and Matt and his Kiwi mate had arranged to use some of it as a sports surface by surfing it.

Quite what William Clarke (Matt's great x 7 grandfather) would have made of that is a matter of no small conjecture!


By Dr Marjorie Bloy

In 1830 the rural workers of the arable south and east of England rose in the Swing riots. They demanded higher wages and an end to the threshing machine which destroyed their winter employment. They reinforced their demands with rick-burning, the destruction of the threshing machines and cattle-maiming among other things.

The 18th Century agricultural revolution, especially enclosure, completely upset traditional rural society. There was a shift from the self sufficient, open field villages to farms rented by tenant farmers employing labourers. Hiring was on a casual basis and no payment was given if no work was done. After enclosure it became more common for labourers to be paid by the day or week or by results, and to be employed for short periods for harvesting, hedging, ditching, threshing, and so on.

After 1815 the labourers' struggle became a crisis because the boom turned into an acute and prolonged recession. The rural labour market was swamped by demobilised servicemen. The Speenhamland System only gave relief and guaranteed a minimum wage, so labourers had no protection. There was no security because of short contracts and money wages.

The problem of pauperism was worst in the 'Swing' counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, Dorset, Huntingdonshire, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Kent.

The economic historian Sir John Clapham commented that "the coincidence of the area in which wages were most systematically augmented from the rates with the area of maximum enclosure is striking." In the so-called "Swing" counties, enclosure had taken place on a grand scale.

In the 1820s high poor rates led to increasing attempts to cut relief. Between 1815 and 1820 Poor Law expenditure was 12/10d per capita; by 1830 it was 9/9d. Reductions were made by making the Poor Law a deterrent and by stopping people asking for relief. This created a hatred of the Poor Law but it is also noticeable that between 1824 and 1830, rural crime rates increased by 30% - mainly poaching and food thefts.

Pauperism, desperation and discontent were almost universal in agricultural areas. East Anglia was likely to be explosive because this area pioneered the 'new' farming of the Agricultural Revolution and the status of the labourers had been completely transformed into short-contract wage-earners. Although arson was not a normal method of rural agitation, it became common in East Anglia along with poaching

The ‘Swing’ riots took place in 1830. They constituted a serious revolt against poverty and dispossession. The rioters used a range of methods including machine breaking; arson; threatening letters; wages meetings; attacks on Justices of the Peace and overseers of the poor; riotous assembly; publishing and distributing handbills and posters; and 'robbery'. The riots began in Kent and persisted there the longest.

Machine breaking was a new feature of rural unrest. Many threshing machines were smashed in this "rural war" on Saturday nights after the inns had closed: about one hundred threshers were smashed in east Kent between 28 August and the end of October, by gangs of between twenty and fifty breakers. There does not seem to have been any political grievance because the men demanded only higher wages. They wanted a minimum of

2/3d per day in winter (13/6d weekly)
2/6d per day in summer (15/- weekly)

The average wage in the Swing counties was only 8/4d per week. The labourers also asked for a reduction of rents and tithes.

The 'Swing' riots were the first large-scale demonstration of agricultural labourers' strength, although outbreaks were localised. Agitation continued, especially after the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. There were no agricultural trade unions because jobs and therefore homes were at stake. The 'Swing' riots did influence the passing of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act, but wages and conditions did not improve.

Average wages for farm labourers rose from 8/11d per week in 1795 to 9/6d per week in 1850, but real wages (i.e. how far the money went) declined. Agricultural labourers continued to be the worst paid, worst fed and worst housed of all the working communities

The elder David Clarke - Accountant, Oldham

The photograph of my great grandfather David Clarke, working at his desk as an Accountant in Oldham (around 1885), is the oldest visual link in my family.

David Clarke’s was born on 26th August 1842 in modest circumstances in Weston Favell, Northamptonshire. He married a much younger woman, Sarah Kenyon on the 9th April 1882. Sarah was born in 1862.

The Marriage Certificate records David as an Accountant. It confirms Sarah's address as 119 West Street, Oldham and her married sister Betty Nicholson was one of the witnesses. The other witness was George / Georgie Kenyon (presumably her brother). The couple were married in a Baptist Chapel.

The Marriage Certificate entries are not clear on the photocopy but we can be fairly certain from Census data that David's father was Henry Clark who was a Shoemaker

In the 1891 Census, my great grandfather was recorded as an Accountant (47) living at the Whitehouse, Willaston, near Nantwich, with wife Sarah (29) born Oldham, Lancs; daughters Florence Eveline and Rosella born Manchester, and younger children Lillian Annette and David Kenyon (my grandfather) who had been born in Willaston, near Nantwich.

In the 1881 Census, David is recorded as being 36, unmarried, lodging with Henry Lyon at 13 Manor Terrace, Liscard, Birkenhead. At that time he was described as 'Bookkeeper to Wallasey Local Board' (i.e. treasurer to the Local Council) and was also recorded as having been born at Weston Favell, Northants.

The 1881 Census also includes Henry Clark, Shoemaker (66) b Weston Favell and his wife Anne Clark (58), dressmaker, b Rockingham, Northants. It appears from BMD research that Anne's maiden name was Hughes.

In the 1861 Census, Henry (46) is recorded again as a Shoemaker, living with his wife Anne (Milliner & Dressmaker) and son David - who was then 18 and employed as an Accountant's Clerk. The same basic information recurs for 1851, with David then aged 8 years.

Going back another generation, Henry is recorded as still living in the household of his father William Clark (65) and mother Catharine (65). He was 25 and both he and his younger brother Joseph were Shoemakers.

The record stretches back then to William (bca 1776) - and links onwards to Henry (bca 1815) and then to his son David (b 1842), and to Keith's grandfather Captain David Kenyon Clarke (b 1888 in Nantwich, Cheshire).

It is significant I believe that the elder David was married in a Baptist Chapel. The shoemakers of Northampton, who had work placed with them in their cottages by unscrupulous agents, were apparently notorious for alcoholism.

Henry appears to have secured a better life for his son by marrying late, having only one child, and going 'tea-total'. Good for him - and ultimately for the family!

Henry's father William was an Agricultural Labourer, also from the village of Weston Favell, Northamptonshire. No doubt he descended from a long-line of villagers who originally cultivate 'furrow-long' (furlong length) strips of land in the village Open Fields. The strips were re-allocated every year to ensure that, over time, everyone had a mix of the better and inferior land.

This communal system was destroyed when the overall owners of the land (aristocratic families) 'enclosed' the land into fields - dispossessing the peasantry in the process. There is much written about the iniquities of the Highland Clearances and Anglo-Irish Landlordism - but the truth is that English countryfolk have an equal grievance.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Old Darlingtons

The Darlingtons are widely known in Cheshire (and north Staffordshire) as a well established dairy farming family. They also have a swathe of relatives in the USA (who originate in the main from the settlement of Abraham and John Darlington in Chester County, Pennsylvania around 1704).

Horace shared a common ancestry with these US Darlingtons - the common ancestor farmed Brookhouses near Whitegate, Cheshire.

Tracing the exact links between gnerations is very taxing because the names 'Abraham' and 'John' cascade down the generations. The loose association of families with particular places, and changes in official boundaries and designations, do not help either.

For example: Whitegate, Darnhall and Over are very close (especially if you are walking across the fields as they probably did in the 16th and 17th centuries). Similarly, many of Horace's branch appear to have married in Acton Church (Acton by Nantwich) although they were living at Aston (Aston-juxta-Mondrum) - a place that hardly exists nowadays and is more often designated as Worleston.

The monograph 'Genealogy of the Darlington Family - A Record of the Descendants of Abraham Darlington of Birmingham, Chester Co, Pennsylvania' by Gilbert Cope (1900) is full of interesting material, including an overview of 'Our English Kith and Kin'.

Both Cope and I agree that all the Darlingtons from Cheshire are almost certainly ultimately related. Unfortunately, although Horace's ancestor Abraham of Poole Old Hall, Aston (i.e. Worleston) appears in the tree, I think that Cope had become fatigued and stubbed his toes on too many Abrahams and Johns when he came to establishing the links.

Taking Cope's information into account, this is my best effort so far:


1.Richard Darlington of Whitegate (born about 1530)

2.Richard Darlington of Whitegate (born 1564) – married Catherine Threlfall

3.Hugh Darlington of Darnhall (born 1599, Whitegate / Over)

4.John Darlington of Darnhall (born 1620, Whitegate) - married Elizabeth Barker

5.Richard Darlington of Darnhall (born 1674, Whitegate)
– married Mary Anderton of Whitegate, at Acton 1699
- remarried to Mary Cocksey (modern Cooksey) at Acton, 1718

6.Abraham Darlington of Aston (born 1721, son of Richard & Mary Cocksey) - married Sarah Hulse

7.John Darlington of Aston (born 1753, son of Abraham & Sarah) - married Mary Bullock, 1777

8.Abraham Darlington of Aston (born 1808 son of John & Mary) – married Mary Galley

9.Abraham Darlington of Poole Old Hall, Aston-juxta-Mondrum / Worleston (born 1841 Willaston, Nr Nantwich, died 1889) – married Esther Foster (formerly Scragg)

10.Herbert Darlington of Hoolgrave Manor, Church Minshull (b 1884, died 1954) - married Sarah Price Kinsey

11.Horace Darlington of Corner Farm, Wettenhall (b 1917, Church Minshull, died 1968) – married Mabel Kenyon Johnson (formerly Clarke)

Donnington Castle and the Texas Rangers


Eric Avebury wrote recently in his Blog about visiting Donnington Castle, commenting that: ‘I remembered vaguely that there was a remote family link with the Castle, which we visited on the way back from Avebury ‘.

Researching the link, he explains that:

‘The unfortunate John Packer, a staunch Parliamentarian, owned the castle at the start of the Civil War, but it was captured by the Royalists and held until the end of the war, then gratuitously demolished by the victorious Parliamentarians. He was forced to live in London.

John Packer was the great-great grandfather of the Reverend Henry Willis, who married Jane Lubbock, my 5th cousin 6 times removed. Their son Richard emigrated to South Carolina in 1791 after the Reverend Henry literally cut him off with the proverbial shilling because of his 'infamous conduct', in a codicil to his will.

On the way over, Richard dropped the surname Willis and became Richard Lubbock, the ancestor of most of the Lubbocks in the US’.



Lubbock is an American city in the state of Texas. Located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically as the Llano Estacado, it is the county seat of Lubbock County, and the home of Texas Tech University. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the city population was 199,564, making it the 90th largest city in the United States and the 11th largest in Texas. The 2006 population was estimated to be 212,169. Lubbock County had an estimated 2006 population of 254,862.

Lubbock's nickname is the "Hub City" which derives from being the economic, education, and health care hub of a multi-county region commonly called the South Plains. The area is the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world and is heavily dependent on irrigation water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer.

The county of Lubbock was founded in 1876, named after Thomas Saltus Lubbock, a Confederate colonel and member of the Terry's Texas Rangers, a group of Texas volunteers for the Confederate Army.

As early as 1884, a federal post office named Lubbock existed in Yellowhouse Canyon. However, the town of Lubbock was not founded until 1890, when it was formed from a unique merger arrangement between two smaller towns, "Old Lubbock" and Monterey.
The terms of the compromise included keeping the Lubbock name but the Monterey townsite, so the previous Old Lubbock residents relocated south to the Monterey location, including putting Old Lubbock's Nicolette Hotel on rollers and pulling it across a canyon to its new home. In 1891 Lubbock became the county seat and on March 16, 1909 Lubbock was incorporated.



Francis R. Lubbock, governor of Texas, was born on October 16, 1815, in Beaufort, South Carolina, the oldest son of Dr. Henry Thomas Willis and Susan Ann (Saltus) Lubbock and brother of Thomas S. Lubbock. At age fourteen, after his father's death, he quit school and took a job as a clerk in a hardware store. He later pursued a business career in South Carolina and then in New Orleans, and continued his business activities when he moved to Texas in 1836.

He was married three times-first to Adele Baron of New Orleans in 1835; then to Mrs. Sarah E. Black Porter, the widow of a Presbyterian minister, in 1883; and then, after his second wife's death, to Lou Scott in 1903. In 1837 Lubbock moved to Houston, Texas, where he opened a general store. During the 1840s he began his ranching operations. Lubbock was a lifelong Democrat. He began his association with the Democratic party during the nullification crisis in South Carolina in 1832. In Texas he continued his political involvement and was appointed comptroller of the Republic of Texas by President Sam Houston. He was also elected clerk of the Harris County district court and served from 1841 to 1857.

In the 1850s Lubbock was active in state Democratic politics. In the party convention of 1856 he fought against the American (or Know-Nothing) party. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1857 but lost his race for re-election in 1859, when Sam Houston and Edward Clark were elected. In 1860 Lubbock served as a Texas delegate to the national Democratic convention at Charleston, where the southern delegation walked out in opposition to the Democratic platform and Stephen A. Douglas, the party's nominee. After the southerners' second walkout on the Democrats at Baltimore, the southern Democratic party nominated John C. Breckinridge at their convention in Richmond, Virginia, a convention chaired by Lubbock.

In 1861 Lubbock won the governorship of Texas by only 124 votes. As governor he staunchly supported the Confederacy and worked to improve the military capabilities of Texas. He chaired the state military board, which attempted to trade cotton and United States Indemnity Bonds for military goods through Mexico. He also worked with the board to establish a state foundry and percussion-cap factory.

Lubbock vigorously supported Confederate conscription, opposing draft exemptions for able-bodied men as unfair and the substitution system as advantageous to the wealthy. Viewing the use of whites in government contracting and cattle driving as wasteful, he encouraged their replacement with slaves to increase enlistment. Aliens residing in Texas were also made subject to the draft. Lubbock exempted frontier counties from the Confederate draft and enlisted their residents for local defense against Indian attack.

When his term of office ended, Lubbock chose to enter the military service. He was appointed lieutenant colonel and served as assistant adjutant general on the staff of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder. He organized troop-transport and supply trains for the Red River campaign against Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks. Lubbock was later transferred to the staff of Brig. Gen. Thomas Green. After Green's death, Lubbock's commander was Maj. Gen. John A. Wharton, whom Lubbock assisted in raising additional Texas troops for the Red River operations.

In August 1864 Lubbock was appointed aide-de-camp to Jefferson Davis and travelled to Richmond. As an expert on the Trans-Mississippi Department, he provided Davis with firsthand information on the war west of the Mississippi River. At the end of the war Lubbock fled Richmond with Davis and was captured by federal authorities in Georgia. He was imprisoned in Fort Delaware and kept in solitary confinement for eight months before being paroled. After his release he returned to Texas. He soon tired of ranching and went into business in Houston and Galveston, where he served as tax collector. From 1878 to 1891 he was treasurer of the state of Texas. From 1891 until his death he continued to live in Austin, where he died on June 22, 1905.


Thomas (some sources say Thompson) Saltus Lubbock, soldier, the son of Henry T. and Susan Ann (Saltus) Lubbock, was born on November 29, 1817, in Charleston, South Carolina. He moved to Louisiana in 1835 and worked as a cotton factor in New Orleans. When the Texas Revolution started, however, he marched to Nacogdoches with Capt. William G. Cooke's company of New Orleans Greys and participated in the siege of Bexar.

Thereafter he took employment on a steamboat on the upper Brazos River and did not learn of Antonio López de Santa Anna's incursion into Texas until after the battle of San Jacinto. After working for a time with Samuel May Williams and Thomas F. McKinney, Lubbock joined the Texan Santa Fe expedition as a lieutenant of one of the military companies. He and his men were captured in New Mexico and confined in Santiago Convent, Mexico City. Lubbock escaped by jumping from the convent's balcony and made his way back to Texas.

After Adrián Woll seized San Antonio in 1842, Lubbock was elected first lieutenant of Gardiner N. O. Smith's company of Harris and Milam county volunteers and, due to Smith's illness, marched at the head of the company to Bexar to join in driving the Mexicans back across the Rio Grande. Lubbock and his men were among the 189 Texans who followed Alexander Somervell back to Texas on December 19, 1842, after declining to join William S. Fisher on the Mier Expedition.

Lubbock was a strong secessionist, characterized as a "very worthy and zealous" Knight of the Golden Circle. At the beginning of the Civil War he accompanied Benjamin Franklin Terry, John A. Wharton, Thomas J. Goree, and James Longstreet, who was to become the commander of I Corps of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, from Galveston to Richmond.

At the Confederate capital on June 22 or 23, 1861, he and Terry, seconded by Senator Louis T. Wigfall, Thomas N. Waul, Wharton, and Longstreet, petitioned President Jefferson Davis for "authority to raise a company or battalion of guerrillas." "I must have your men," Davis reportedly replied.

While in Virginia, Lubbock, Terry, and some fifteen other Texans organized themselves into an independent band of rangers to scout for the Confederate Army.

Early in July, Lubbock and Terry, at the head of a company of Virginia cavalry, charged a Union camp, captured two of the enemy, wounded a third, and captured a horse and a fine Sharps rifle. Only then did they realize that they were alone and that the Virginians had not followed them in their rash attack.

Lubbock was still a civilian in Virginia at the time of the battle of First Bull Run or First Manassas; he "exposed his life in bearing messages during the contest." With Terry, who had also served as a volunteer aide on the battlefield, Lubbock was authorized to raise a regiment of cavalry to serve in the Confederate States Army.

The two men returned to Texas and recruited the Eighth Texas Cavalry, more commonly known as Terry's Texas Rangers. Terry served as the regimental colonel and Lubbock as lieutenant colonel. In poor health, Lubbock left the regiment at Nashville and never returned to it.

After the death of Colonel Terry at the battle of Woodsonville, Kentucky, on December 17, 1861, Lubbock, then sick in a Bowling Green hospital, was advanced to command of the regiment, but he died in January 1862. John A. Wharton was elected colonel and John G. Walker lieutenant colonel of the regiment.

Lubbock was married on December 14, 1843, to Sara Anna Smith. He was, according to one of his men, "small and affable, and made a favourable impression on us." He was the brother of Texas governor Francis R. Lubbock. Lubbock County was named in his honour.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dani Anderson with her family - Mungo, Harry & Ella

Keith had hoped to meet up with Dani while he was in Australia recently - partly to celebrate her 41st Birthday.

It was not to be - but Happy Happy Birthday Dani - and may your life and the lives of those lovely kids go well!

Maureen, Dani & Keith in Egypt 1975

In 1974, Keith was a member of a team of consultants preparing the Suez City Master Plan. The team consisted of consultants from Halcrow Ltd., Shankland Cox, and Economic Consultants Ltd.

There were other British consulting teams (funded by British Overseas Development Agency grants) planning the parallel reconstruction of the cities of Port Said and Ismailiya. This work accompanied the re-opening of the Suez Canal - which had been closed since the Six Days War between Israel and Egypt / Jordan / Syria in 1967.

Keith with Dani - Dorset 1974


Keith returned to England from Australia in late 1973 with Maureen Anderson (later Maureen Swanage) and her 5 year old daughter Dani (Danielle). As is clear from the photo (taken on a bridge over the River Piddle, Tolpuddle, Dorset) Dani has always been regarded as a daughter by Keith.

'Balikbayan' (Back Home) ADB - Manila

OECD - ADB Anti-Corruption Workshop - Manila (September)

It was a great delight to be hired once more as a consultant to the Asian Development Bank, in Sept - Oct 2009, to prepare Case Studies for the Regional Seminar on Workshop on the Political Economy of Corruption.

Not only is this a very interesting and immediate topic, it also offered wide opportunities for me to blend my considerable experience of development issues with the whimsical humour that is beloved by my friends but which bemuses those who know me less well.

I was able to invent an imaginary country called Andamanya (whose inhabitants are referred to, somewhat disparagingly by their neighbours the Beracians, as Andamanyacs). This avoided the tricky issues that can arise in teaching from real corruption examples.

Also interesting to re-visit (if only in passing) adjoining Beracia, for which I produced considerable sets of regional planning statistics as teaching materials for a course that I ran at the Development and Project Planning Centre at the University of Bradford in the period 1982 - 1984. These Beracian data complemented those provided by Roemer and Stern in their novel and imaginative text book on macro-economic planning 'Cases in Economic Development - Projects, Policies and Strategies' (1981).

CAPAM - Botswana (April 2009)

I was fortunate to visit Botswana in April to assist in the delivery of a Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) workshop on Financial Administration and Accountability - working with Canadians David Waung and Carl Taylor.

The country is very impressive in many ways and appears to have benefited substantially from avoiding full colonial dependency in the 19th Century - thanks to its peripheral / buffer zone location between the Boer Republics and the British Empire. There is a quiet confidence among many professionals, accompanied by commensurate competence. In recent years, it has had the additional luxury of development fuelled by substantial revenues from mining (especially diamonds).

It is not without its problems though. A USAID health worker told me that one third of the women who go through the country's maternity services test HIV positive.

On flying into Johannesburg, I was amazed to look down and see European-type farms rolling out beneath the plane. This was very different from the peasant farmer landscapes that I got to know so well in Nigeria and Tanzania in the 1970s. Nice though to re-fly some of the territory that my father Jay must have become acquainted with during his wartime training in South Africa with the RAF.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Delusions in the Middle East and the Little Drummer Girl

I was both appalled and amused to read the story repeated below from the New York Times about Emma Sky.

Emma and I met in February 2000 when I travelled to Jerusalem to take up the post of Director of the Public Administration Institutional Development Project for the supposedly then emerging state of Palestine. The project was being funded by the British Council. Emma had undertaken the pre-feasibility and stakeholder assessment work.

The project proved to have been very poorly conceived. It did not have the approval of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. Promises that the team would be located in Jerusalem (or Ramallah) were not honoured and Emma told the team members in peremptory terms that they were being based in Gaza. No cars were available with the diplomatic plates that were required to enter Israel from Gaza. No assistance whatsoever was provided with settling in the team.

Emma, who was based in the Jewish sector of Jerusalem, appeared to have some very strange ideas about the Arabs and the Middle East. When I raised the possibility that I might seek the adoption of an orphaned / refugee Palestinian child, she told me that the Palestinians would kill me. On the other hand, she volunteered the view that 'the Israel - Palestine problem would be solved by inter-marriage'.

As far as I could glean, she had absolutely no knowledge or experience in the fields of public sector reform and financial administration. However, she appeared to regard me as a nuisance and commented that 'I could do everything myself except that the Arabs won't always listen to a woman - unfortunately, that's why we need an old man with grey hair like you'.

At that time I was 56 years old - I note that her current unfortunate collaborator General Odierno is 55 years old.

She is the West at its absolute worst in the Middle East. Armed with selective facts but with little commonsense or common humanity, she sees herself as a Grand Design puppeteer who controls a masque populated by minatures.

For God's sake General Odierno, talk to ordinary people yourself! Surely General, you don't need a 'cat has the cream / daddy's girl' English public school girl to tell you that bombing civilians is counter-productive?

Robert Fisk must be seething - or quietly weeping into his coffee in a cafe on a Hamra sidewalk.


From New York Times - November 2009

Rarely does the hulking commander of American forces in Iraq meet with Iraqis or go to a news conference without a slight, dark-haired woman standing just a little to one side — as if to give him space, but almost always in his line of sight and within earshot.

The woman is Emma Sky, and she is an unlikely figure in the milieu of the generally strait-laced American military. She is British, 41, a civilian and a onetime opponent of the war, but nevertheless a political adviser, as well as confidante on many policy matters to the American commander, Gen. Ray Odierno.

She is often compared to Gertrude Bell, a celebrated early-20th-century British adventurer who was an architect of modern Iraq. That may be an overstatement, but Ms. Sky is nevertheless, like Ms. Bell, a woman to be reckoned with.

She has provoked her share of controversy, both because of her outspoken criticism of some military policies and because of her influential position in General Odierno’s inner circle.

Conversant in Arabic and Hebrew, Ms. Sky has worked in conflict zones from Israel to Afghanistan, has spent more time on the ground in Iraq than most soldiers and knows tribal leaders from the northern city of Kirkuk to the southern city of Basra.

“Emma was able to give me a completely different perspective: it was from an Iraqi viewpoint,” General Odierno said.

“We didn’t have a lot of experience in doing these things, so someone with her background and knowledge was able to assist us as to how we could best help civilians.”

One senior foreign diplomat said that the very presence of a civilian political adviser at the right hand of a senior American military commander was a sign of the extent to which military strategy now strives to take into account the political and cultural landscape of conflict.

Outsiders’ points of view on Iraq began to be aggressively sought about three years ago, when counterinsurgency strategy began to permeate every aspect of military thinking. According to the new doctrine, operating successfully in hostile places required understanding how local people saw the situation and whom they viewed as friends or enemies.

Ms. Sky sees herself as part aid worker, part political operator, part cultural translator.

“I’m experienced in working in different cultures. The most alien culture I’ve ever worked in is the U.S. military,” she said with characteristic candor. “I was used to working in the humanitarian space, the diplomatic space. I came to Iraq and that space, the military, is all over it.”

Rather than remaining an outsider, however, she decided to try to effect change from within. Initially she worked as a British Foreign Ministry employee detailed to the American command; more recently, she has become an American contractor.

Despite her insider’s post, she prides herself on retaining an outsider’s view of the military, saying things to top brass that others will not. During the troop buildup in 2007 known as the surge, she said that attacks on insurgents that also resulted in civilian casualties were tantamount to “mass murder.”

“When you drop a bomb from the air and it lands on a village and kills all those people and you turn around and say, ‘Oh we didn’t mean to kill the civilians,’ well, who did you think was living in the village?” she said.

That is now conventional wisdom. The first thing Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal did when he took over the command of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan was to prohibit attacks that might harm civilians.

Just as she has tried to help the military pay more attention to civilian points of view, the commanders have given her a new appreciation for the role of force. She came to believe that increasing troop numbers in 2007 and 2008 was the best way to bring Iraqi civilians the security they needed so badly.

Ms. Sky then tried to find ways to persuade insurgents to give up violence, promoting early efforts by scattered military commanders to give jobs to Sunni rebels and to find a way to work with anti-American Shiite militias.

Like General Odierno, she sees the period between now and parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for January as central to Iraq’s future stability, but she has no illusions that the job will be done when the elections are over.

“There is going to be a certain level of violence in Iraq for years to come; it remains to be seen how much the society can continue to absorb,” she said.
General Odierno turned to Ms. Sky, he said, because he was seeking a broad range of views in his inner circle. “Her views are controversial; they are different from many of the people around me, but that’s O.K.,” he said. “My inner circle team accepted her into the process.”

An only child who was raised in England, Ms. Sky attended a boys boarding school from age 7 to 13; her stepfather was a teacher there and her mother was a house mother.

After high school, she entered Oxford’s Somerville College, one of two formerly all-women’s colleges and the alma mater of such strong-minded characters as Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi.

She earned a degree in oriental studies with the idea of working for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. “When I still believed I could change the world,” Ms. Sky says dryly.

After school, she went to work for nongovernmental organizations, spending almost 10 years mostly in Israel and the West Bank.

As there was little progress on the Middle East peace process, Ms. Sky moved back to England, and she was working for the British Council, an arm of the Foreign Office, when the war in Iraq began.

Three of Ross Bodkin's nephews (& a niece) at the Memorial Ceremony - Finn, Theo, Ruby & Sam

Keith's son Sam (Samson Ross Johnson Bodkin) was born three years to the day after the accident. The photo is taken on Sam's 7th birthday.

Ross Bodkin's children remember their father (Carly, Alex and Chris)

Jane Bodkin helps to dedicate the memorial to her brother Ross Bodkin & his colleagues

Northparkes Airblast Losses Remembered, 24 November 2009

Official Rio Tinto - Sumitomo Press Release

Northparkes remembers 10th anniversary of air blast - 27 Nov, 2009 11:19 AM

More than 200 people attended a special private memorial service at Northparkes Mines on Tuesday – the 10th anniversary of the tragic accident which claimed four lives.

Northparkes invited the families, friends, past and current colleagues of the four men who were fatally injured in an air blast on 24 November 1999 – Ross Bodkin, Michael House, Colin Lloyd-Jones and Stuart Osman – for a service to acknowledge and reflect on the tragedy.

The service commenced at 11am by welcoming the families and distinguished guests to the mine.

Craig Stegman, General Manager of Northparkes then spoke about why it was important to acknowledge the day, focussing on the learnings that will ensure that the deaths of Ross, Michael, Colin and Stuart were not in vain – and that such an event should never occur in the mining industry again.

Attendees were invited to stand for a minute’s silence in memory and deep respect for the men.

Each of the families addressed the gathering of 200 people and shared their memories of the four men in a very moving reminder of the impact that the event has had on their lives over the last 10 years.

Rob Cunningham was elected by his peers to speak on behalf of the staff who were working underground the day of the air blast.

His speech touched on the images that have stuck with him about the incident and the importance of remembering the four men who lost their lives.

Rob speech concluded with a poem, which had been published in the mines newsletter two weeks after the incident, which touched the hearts of all attending the service.

Representatives from Joint Venture Partners David Peever, Managing Director Rio Tinto, Yu Yamato Deputy Managing Director Sumitomo, Ken Keith Mayor Parkes Shire Council, Craig Stegman General Manager Northparkes, Kerrie Edwards, Environment Safety Health Community & Farming Manager, Northparkes, Natalie Simpson and Marcus Morrison,

Northparkes employees and the families laid a wreath on the memorial rock at the underground portal.


The 'Bush Poem'


We look out on a morning to a bird on a cloud
To a family awakening and a child's cry aloud.
We wonder in silence about what lies ahead.
Of spirit and purpose and things left unsaid.

We know not all paths our loved ones pursue,
We accept that their judgement is correct and is true,
Yet a sign on a hill lights a thought that I had,
Of some children awaiting the return of their Dad.

And as I travel the road down the track to my home,
I think of those blokes down under alone.
I think of their wives and their voices that sound,
Like tunneling echoes from deep underground.

We all knew them well; we accept their ultimate fate,
But time has knocked early for those blokes, our mates.
And those left behind, let's make them all proud,
Let's search every sunset for that bird on the cloud.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The North Parkes Mining Disaster, NSW (1999)

Four miners killed in Australian mine disaster

By Terry Cook 2 December 1999

The accident that claimed the lives of four mine workers on November 24 at the Northparkes copper and gold mine near Parkes, in central west New South Wales, again focuses attention on the issue of safety standards in the mining industry.

The four men, Ross Bodkin 41, Michael House 33, Stuart Osman 47 and Colin Lloyd-Jones 41, were killed instantly when millions of tonnes of ore and earth collapsed suddenly causing a catastrophic air blast through an access tunnel in which they were working 140 metres below ground.

The collapse extended hundreds of metres right up to ground level. The resulting wind blast was so powerful that it ripped apart the two-tonne Toyota Land Cruiser carrying two of the men and spread shattered metal and wreckage over a kilometre along the mine shaft.

One of the mine's engineers said: "Normally not much ore falls down. This time it appears a huge amount fell. There would have been a massive blast of air and even if the miners had been some distance away, there would have been nowhere for the air to escape. It was like being trapped in a piston.”

The incident could easily have resulted in a greater loss of life. Another 57 men were carrying out maintenance work on mining and crushing equipment in the control room some 300 metres below the access shaft. The blast caused the ground to shake around them. They were forced to remain underground for over three hours while rescue teams sought to determine whether it was safe for them to exit.

Northparkes is the only underground mine in Australia using a method of ore extraction known as block caving. The technique consists of creating a void in the ground under a core of ore. Miners precipitate a movement in the ore body through gypsum cracks producing what is known as a "controlled collapse". The conglomerate above then falls into the void where the ore is recovered through points at the base that are serviced by protected access tunnels.

After the mine first opened, the management claimed that the operation had the potential for becoming the “lowest cost underground hard rock operation” in the country. When a “controlled collapse" is in progress there is normally a crew of about six men and the process is done largely by remote control. The team is located in the protected control room.

A company spokesman confirmed that the accident took place during a maintenance shutdown and that there was no mining taking place at the time. He said that the company had no explanation for the unexpected collapse, saying, "on this occasion the body of ore decided to move itself”. He claimed that there had been no prior indications. The matter is now the subject of several investigations.


Ross Bodkin is my wife Jane's brother. Ross was the second of the four children of Bill and Shirley Bodkin of Clyde, Central Otago (the others being sisters Ann, Jane and Sally). The full name of my third son 'Sam' is Samson Ross Johnson Bodkin & he was born on the third anniversary of the death of his Uncle Ross.

Dr Janet Ione Mills, Musicologist (11 May 1954 - 24 December 2007)

Tribute by Leonora Davies January 2008

Janet Mills died on 24 December after a courageous battle with illness. The fact that she worked almost to the end, publishing Instrumental Teaching in September 2007, is a measure of her determination and strength of character.

Her professional life was immersed in music as a student, teacher, teacher educator - she held posts at both Westminster College and Exeter University - researcher and inspector (as an HMI for 10 years). As a consequence the music education world is all the richer and better informed through her succinct, direct and down to earth writings.

'All children - and adults - are musical.' This straightforward and passionately held belief is reflected in all Janet's work. She graduated in 1975 with a joint first-class degree from York University in both Music and Mathematics, the Music degree under the tutelage of Professor John Paynter.

Although her initial teaching posts were in secondary schools in Yorkshire, it is through her writing and research in the field of music in primary schools that many students and class-based teachers will have come to know her, and to learn much from her ideas and suggestions - at the same time challenging but empowering and most of all, down to earth and practical.

"Class teachers, given appropriate support, are capable of teaching music. This way, music takes its place as part of the whole primary curriculum."
Music in the school, OUP 2005.

Janet gained not only a national reputation but her research and writing were acclaimed in the international arena, particularly within ISME (International Society of Music Educators). Indeed her final trip was to Brazil in October last year to deliver a paper at an ISME seminar.

She served on the Executive of the Music Education Council for many years and during my term as chair of this organisation I learned much from her considered, thought provoking and sometimes exacting contributions to our debates and discussions. She was a very private person but was always held in respectful esteem by colleagues and friends as was reflected in the packed church at her memorial service.

"Music is not a gift but a right - by teaching music in school, and teaching it in a way that is as positive, enabling, creative and artistic as possible, we help children to make the most of music, for themselves, as they move through life."

This encapsulates for me one of her lasting legacies for the music education world.


Janet is the daughter of John and Ione Mills. John in turn was the son of Bernard Mills and his wife Mabel (nee Salter) of Nantwich, Cheshire. Mabel Salter was the sister of Keith's grandmother Gladys Salter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Elizabeth Elstob (1674–1752): Founding Feminist Historian

Elizabeth Elstob (1683 - 1756), the 'Saxon Nymph,' was born and brought up in the Quayside area of Newcastle upon Tyne, and, like Mary Astell of Newcastle, is nowadays regarded as one of the first English feminists.

She was proficient in eight languages and became a pioneer in Anglo-Saxon studies, an unprecedented achievement for a woman in the period.

Elizabeth Elstob published two important books and was admired by the leaders of the new movement for Anglo‐Saxon studies in the early eighteenth century. She was able to be part of this community because her brother William encouraged and enabled it.

In London she translated Madeleine de Scudery's Essay upon Glory in 1708 and an English-Saxon Homily on the Nativity of St Gregory in 1709. Both works are dedicated to Queen Anne, who is praised in feminist prefaces.

From 1702, Elizabeth was part of the circle of intelligent women around Mary Astell, who helped to find subscribers for her Rudiments of Grammar for the English-Saxon Tongue (1715), the first such work written in English. The preface: An Apology for the Study of Northern Antiquities took issue with the formidable Jonathan Swift and seems to have caused him to amend his views.

Elizabeth's brother William Elstob (1673-1715) was sent to Eton and Cambridge and entered the church. Like his sister, he was a scholar and edited Roger Ascham's Letters in 1703. Elizabeth may have lived with him at Oxford from 1696, and certainly did so in London from 1702.

William’s death in 1715 was a catastrophe, marking the end of her productive life as an intellectual and plunging her into poverty. She disappeared for almost twenty years, but was discovered and rescued by the first generation of bluestockings.

A project she had begun – a history of intellectual women – was taken up and completed by George Ballard. His Memoirs of British Ladies (1752) included Elstob's memories about Mary Astell, and is, among other things, the single most important source of information about this pioneer feminist.

After William's death, having financial difficulties, she moved to Worcestershire and ran a small school. Elizabeth eventually secured an annuity and an apartment, where she lived 'surrounded by the congenial elements of dirt and books' until she died in 1756. She is buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard, Westminster.

Elstob Typeface:
One of the fonts that has been used for the printing of Anglo-Saxon texts is the Elstob type. This type was designed by Humphrey Wanley for Elizabeth Elstob's ‘The Rudiments of Grammar for the English-Saxon Tongue’, London, W. Bowyer, 1715, to replace Bowyer's earlier type as used for Ælfric's homilies in 1709. In 1900 it was used by Horace Hart in some notes on typography, and in 1910 (after some modification) for Robert Bridges' "On the Present State of English Pronunciation" (Essays and Studies, Oxford, 1910


On 1st December 1852, Keith’s great, great grandfather William Lubbock (then aged 38, born 1814, Great Yarmouth, Mast and Block Maker in the family shipbuilding company) married his second wife Clara Elstob, aged 22. Clara was the daughter of Thomas Smith Elstob (mother nee Hannah Quenby).

Thomas Smith Elstob was the son of Dryden Elstob (1766 – 1805, a London shipwright) / ship-builder). Dryden Elstob (wife Mary Smith) was the only surviving son of John Elstob (1678 – 1722). John (wife Mary Foster) was in turn the son of Ralph Elstob (1645 – 1688).

Ralph was a merchant who became Sherriff of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1685. After Ralph and his wife Jane died (nee Hall), his brother Charles Elstob (who was the Rector of Canterbury Cathedral) adopted his children. They included John (from whom Keith descends), William (1673 – 1714) and Elizabeth ‘The Saxon Nymph’ (1683 – 1756).

The Old Shorrocks

In 'Surnames", by E. Weeley, there is mention of Herbert de Schirhoc, 1199-1332 Fine Rolls.

From: 'Townships: Mellor', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6 (1911) by William Farrer & J. Brownhill (eds), pp. 260-263. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=53112 Date accessed: 21 November 2009.

‘The two lords of Mellor in 1292 sued Alice de Shorrok, Adam de Hunteleye and Henry de Sholley for felling 300 oak trees price 40s. in their wood since 1284. Deuyas afterwards withdrew; Assize R. 408, m. 53 d.

The family of Shorrock appear at Shorrock Green at an early date. William and Henry, sons of Roger de Shorok, occur about 1300. Richard de Shorrok (Rico de Shorrok) was one of the largest contributors to the subsidy of 1332. William his son was a freeholder here in 1336. John de Shorrok contributed to the poll tax of 1379; and his son and heir William was in possession of 'Old Shorock' in Mellor in 1411. Geoffrey Shorock made his will before witnesses in 1459.

In 1336 the free tenants of the manor of Mellor were William de Huntingdon, Dame Matilda de Holand, John de Coppedhurst, William de Shorrock, Henry de Haukeshagh, Robert and Adam de Blakeburn.

A settlement was made on William Shorrok in 1395 upon his marriage to Margaret daughter and co-heir of Thomas de Werden, subject to the life estate of William son of Adam de Huntingdon. Thomas de Werden appears to have married the heiress of the Huntingdon family, who held lands here from the time of Edward II, by feoffment of Robert de Holand, John son of Robert de Mellor and Gilbert de Southworth; Towneley MSS. (Chet. Lib.), C 8, 13, T 235.

In 1411 John son of Thomas Layland released to William son and heir of John Shorrock his title to lands and tenements called 'Olde Shorrok' which John Shorrock had by his feoffment after the death of Thomas Molyneux, and he himself had by feoffment of Margaret daughter and heir of John Shorrock; Towneley MS. (Chet. Lib.), C 8, 13, p. 843.’

[I have to admit to a level of awkwardness in posting this. I have always been very much an egalitarian and very suspicious of any symbols of supposed superiority or privilege. On the other hand: a) like as not my family were peasants who took their name from the place or their masters, b) I was obsessed by heraldry and medieval history as a kid and remember pushing Horace and Meg to take me to Over Peover Church to do some brass rubbings relating to the Mainwaring Family, so perhaps its just a reversal to innocent youth]

My recently re-united Johnson (i.e. 'Lubbock') second cousins

Reg Johnson (13 September 1915 - 17 March 1994)

My grandmother Connie (born Constance Maud Mary Lubbock) came from quite a large family, which included a sister Winifred Clara Lubbock.

Winifred married James Gilbert Johnson who was born around 1889, in Norwood, Surrey. They had two boys, Stanley Derrick Johnson born 1913 and Reginald James Johnson born 1915. Through this blog, I am now in touch with the descendants of Reginald ‘Reg’ James Johnson (a cousin of my father Jay).

Reg / Reggie was born on the 13 September in London and died on 17 March 1994, in Bournemouth, England. He was a very well-known and highly respected film cameraman in the innovative early days of British cinema. His filmography notes attribute the following quote to him:

“Nothing is a good idea, until dad has thought of it first”.

He is particularly known for his camerawork on the films: Operation Amsterdam, The 39 Steps, and Violent Playground. He also has a wide range of other credits.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

TACT by Sir John Lubbock (1834 - 1913)

For success in life tact is more important than talent, but it is not easily acquired by those to whom it does not come naturally. Still something can be done by considering what others would probably wish.

Never lose a chance of giving pleasure. Be courteous to all. "Civility," said Lady Montague, "costs nothing and buys everything." It buys much, indeed, which no money will purchase. Try then to win every one you meet. "Win their hearts," said Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, "and you have all men's hearts and purses."

Tact often succeeds where force fails. Lilly quotes the old fable of the Sun and the Wind: "It is pretily noted of a contention betweene the Winde and the Sunne, who should have the victorye. A Gentleman walking abroad, the Winde thought to blowe off his cloake, which with great blastes and blusterings striuing to vnloose it, made it to stick faster to his backe, for the more the Winde encreased the closer his cloake clapt to his body: then the Sunne, shining with his hot beams, began to warm this gentleman, who waxing somewhat faint in his faire weather, did not only put off his cloake but his coate, which the Wynde perceiuing, yeelded the conquest to the Sunne."
Always remember that men are more easily led than driven, and that in any case it is better to guide than to coerce.

"What thou wilt
Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile,
Than hew to't with thy sword."

It is a good rule in politics, "pas trop gouverner."

Try to win, and still more to deserve, the confidence of those with whom you are brought in contact. Many a man has owed his influence far more to character than to ability. Sydney Smith used to say of Francis Horner, who, without holding any high office, exercised a remarkable personal influence in the Councils of the Nation, that he had the Ten Commandments stamped upon his countenance.

Try to meet the wishes of others as far as you rightly and wisely can; but do not be afraid to say "No."

Anybody can say "Yes," though it is not every one who can say "Yes" pleasantly; but it is far more difficult to say "No." Many a man has been ruined because he could not do so. Plutarch tells us that the inhabitants of Asia Minor came to be vassals only for not having been able to pronounce one syllable, which is "No."

And if the Conduct of Life is essential to say "No," it is scarcely less necessary to be able to say it pleasantly. We ought always to endeavour that everybody with whom we have any transactions should feel that it is a pleasure to do business with us and should wish to come again. Business is a matter of sentiment and feeling far more than many suppose; every one likes being treated with kindness and courtesy, and a frank pleasant manner will often clench a bargain more effectually than a half per cent.

Almost any one may make himself pleasant if he wishes. "The desire of pleasing is at least half the art of doing it:" and, on the other hand, no one will please others who does not desire to do so. If you do not acquire this great gift while you are young, you will find it much more difficult afterwards. Many a man has owed his outward success in life far more to good manners than to any solid merit; while, on the other hand, many a worthy man, with a good heart and kind intentions, makes enemies merely by the roughness of his manner. To be able to please is, moreover, itself a great pleasure. Try it, and you will not be disappointed.

Be wary and keep cool. A cool head is as necessary as a warm heart. In any negotiations, steadiness and coolness are invaluable; while they will often carry you in safety through times of danger and difficulty.

If you come across others less clever than you are, you have no right to look down on them. There is nothing more to be proud of in inheriting great ability, than a great estate. The only credit in either case is if they are used well. Moreover, many a man is much cleverer than he seems. It is far more easy to read books than men. In this the eyes are a great guide. "When the eyes say one thing and the tongue another, a practised man relies on the language of the first."

Do not trust too much to professions of extreme goodwill. Men do not fall in love with men, nor women with women, at first sight. If a comparative stranger protests and promises too much, do not place implicit confidence in what he says. If not insincere, he probably says more than he means, and perhaps wants something himself from you. Do not therefore believe that every one is a friend, merely because he professes to be so; nor assume too lightly that any one is an enemy.

We flatter ourselves by claiming to be rational and intellectual beings, but it would be a great mistake to suppose that men are always guided by reason. We are strange inconsistent creatures, and we act quite as often, perhaps oftener, from prejudice or passion. The result is that you are more likely to carry men with you by enlisting their feelings, than by convincing their reason. This applies, moreover, to companies of men even more than to individuals.

Argument is always a little dangerous. If often leads to coolness and misunderstandings. You may gain your argument and lose your friend, which is probably a bad bargain. If you must argue, admit all you can, but try and show that some point has been overlooked. Very few people know when they have had the worst of an argument, and if they do, they do not like it. Moreover, if they know they are beaten, it does not follow that they are convinced. Indeed it is perhaps hardly going too far to say that it is very little use trying to convince any one by argument. State your case as clearly and concisely as possible, and if you shake his confidence in his own opinion it is as much as you can expect. It is the first step gained.

Conversation is an art in itself, and it is by no means those who have most to tell who are the best talkers; though it is certainly going too far to say with Lord Chesterfield that "there are very few Captains of Foot who are not much better company than ever were Descartes or Sir Isaac Newton."

I will not say that it is as difficult to be a good listener as a good talker, but it is certainly by no means easy, and very nearly as important. You must not receive everything that is said as a critic or a judge, but suspend your judgment, and try to enter into the feelings of the speaker. If you are kind and sympathetic your advice will be often sought, and you will have the satisfaction of feeling that you have been a help and comfort to many in distress and trouble.

Do not expect too much attention when you are young. Sit, listen, and look on. Bystanders proverbially see most of the game; and you can notice what is going on just as well, if not better, when you are not noticed yourself. It is almost as if you possessed a cap of invisibility.

To save themselves the trouble of thinking, which is to most people very irksome, men will often take you at your own valuation. "On ne vault dans ce monde," says La Bruyère, "que ce que l'on veult valoir."

Do not make enemies for yourself; you can make nothing worse.

"Answer not a fool according to his folly,
Lest thou also be like unto him."

Remember that "a soft answer turneth away wrath;" but even an angry answer is less foolish than a sneer: nine men out of ten would rather be abused, or even injured, than laughed at. They will forget almost anything sooner than be made ridiculous.

"It is pleasanter to be deceived than to be undeceived." Trasilaus, and Athenian, went made, and thought that all the ships in the Piræus belonged to him, but having been cured by Crito, he complained bitterly that he had been robbed. It is folly, says Lord Chesterfield, "to lose a friend for a jest: but, in my mind, it is not much less degree of folly, to make an enemy of an indifferent and neutral person for the sake of a bon-mot."

Do not be too ready to suspect a slight, or think you are being laughed at - to say with Scrub in the Stratagem, "I am sure they talked of me, for they laughed consumedly." On the other hand, if you are laughed at, try to rise above it. If you can join in heartily, you will turn the tables and gain rather than lose. Every one likes a man who can enjoy a laugh at his own expense - and justly so, for it shows good-humour and good-sense. If you laugh at yourself, other people will not laugh at you.

Have the courage of your opinions. You must expect to be laughed at sometimes, and it will do you no harm. There is nothing ridiculous in seeming to be what you really are, but a good deal in affecting to be what you are not. People often distress themselves, get angry, and drift into a coolness with others, for some quite imaginary grievance.

Be frank, and yet reserved. Do not talk much about yourself; neither of yourself, for yourself, nor against yourself: but let other people talk about themselves, as much as they will. If they do so it is because they like it, and they will think all the better of you for listening to them. At any rate do not show a man, unless it is your duty, that you think he is a fool or a blockhead. If you do, he has good reason to complain. You may be wrong in your judgment; he will, and with some justice, form the same opinion of you.

Burke once said that he could not draw an indictment against a nation, and it is very unwise as well as unjust to attack any class or profession. Individuals often forget and forgive, but Societies never do. Moreover, even individuals will forgive an injury much more readily than an insult. Nothing rankles so much as being made ridiculous. You will never gain your object by putting people out of humour, or making them look ridiculous.

Goethe in this "Conversations with Eckermann" commended our countrymen. Their entrance and bearing in Society, he said, were so confident and quiet that one would think they were everywhere the masters, and the whole world belonged to them. Eckermann replied that surely young Englishmen were no cleverer, better educated, or better hearted than young Germans. "That is not the point," said Goethe; "their superiority does not lie in such things, neither does it lie in their birth and fortune: it lies precisely in their having the courage to be what nature made them. There is no halfness about them. They are complete men. Sometimes complete fools, also, that I heartily admit; but even that is something, and has its weight."

In any business or negotiations, be patient. Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request: many an opponent has been tired out.

Above all, never lose your temper, and if you do, at any rate hold your tongue, and try not to show it.

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:
Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil."5

"A softer answer turneth away wrath:
But grievous words stir up anger."

Never intrude where you are not wanted. There is plenty of room elsewhere. "Have I not three kingdoms?" said King James to the fly, "and yet thou must needs fly in my eye."

Some people seem to have a knack of saying the wrong thing, of alluding to any subject which revives sad memories, or rouses differences of opinion.

No branch of Science is more useful than the knowledge of Men. It is of the utmost importance to be able to decide wisely, not only to know whom you can trust, and whom you cannot, but how far, and in what, you can trust them. This is by no means easy. It is most important to choose well those who are to work with you, and under you; to put the square man in the square hole, and the round man in the round hole.
"If you suspect a man, do not employ him: if you employ him, do not suspect him."

Those who trust are oftener right than those who mistrust. Confidence should be complete, but not blind. Merlin lost his life, wise as he was, for imprudently yielding to Vivien's appeal to trust her, "all in all or not at all."

Be always discreet. Keep your own counsel. If you do not keep it for yourself, you cannot expect others to keep it for you. "The mouth of a wise man is in his heart; the heart of a fool is in his mouth, for what he knoweth or thinketh he uttereth."

Use your head. Consult your reason. It is not infallible, but you will be less likely to err if you do so.

Speech is, or ought to be silvern, but silence is golden.

Many people talk, not because they have anything to say, but for the mere love of talking. Talking should be an exercise of the brain, rather than of the tongue. Talkativeness, the love of talking for talking's sake, is almost fatal to success. Men are "plainly hurried on, in the heat of their talk, to say quite different things from what they first intended, and which they afterwards wish unsaid: or improper things, which they had no other end in saying, but only to find employment to their tongue.

And this unrestrained volubility and wantonness in speech is the occasion of numberless evils and vexations in life. It begets resentment in him who is the subject of it; sows the seed of strife and dissension amongst others; and inflamed little disgusts and offences, which, if let alone, would wear away of themselves."

"C'est une grande misère," says La Bruyère, "que de n'avoir pas assez d'esprit pour bien parler, ni assez de jugement pour se taire." Plutarch tells a story of Demaratus, that being asked in a certain assembly whether he held his tongue because he was a fool, or for want of words, he replied, "A fool cannot hold his tongue."

"Seest thou," said Solomon,
"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words?
There is more hope of a fool than of him."

Never try to show your own superiority: few things annoy people more than being made to feel small.

Do not be too positive in your statements. You may be wrong, however sure you feel. Memory plays us curious tricks, and both ears and eyes are sometimes deceived. Our prejudices, even the most cherished, may have no secure foundation. Moreover, even if you are right, you will lose nothing by disclaiming too great certainty.

In action, again, never make too sure, and never throw away a chance. "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip."

It has been said that everything comes to those who know how to wait; and when the opportunity does come, seize it.

"He that wills not, when he may;
When he will, he shall have nay."

If you once let your opportunity go, you may never have another.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune: Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat: And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our venture."

Be cautious, but not over-cautious; do not be too much afraid of making a mistake; "a man who never makes a mistake, will make nothing."

Always dress neatly: we must dress, therefore we should do it well, though not too well; not extravagantly, either in time or money, but taking care to have good materials. It is astonishing how much people judge by dress. Of those you come across, many go mainly by appearances in any case, and many more have in your case nothing but appearances to go by. The eyes and ears open the heart, and a hundred people will see, for one who will know you. Moreover, if you are careless and untidy about yourself, it is a fair, though not absolute, conclusion that you will be careless about other things also.

When you are in Society study those who have the best and pleasantest
manners. "Manner," says the old proverb with much truth, if with some exaggeration, "maketh Man," and "a pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation."

"Merit and knowledge will not gain hearts, though they will secure them when gained. Engage the eyes by the elegance and harmony of your diction; and the heart will certainly (I should rather say probably) follow."

Every one has eyes and ears, but few have a sound judgment. The world is a stage. We are all players, and every one knows how much the success of a piece depends upon the way it is acted.

Lord Chesterfield, speaking of his son, says, "They tell me he is loved wherever he is known, and I am very glad of it; but I would have him be liked before he is known, and loved afterwards... You know very little of the nature of mankind, if you take those things to be of little consequence; one cannot be too attentive to them; it is they that always engage the heart, of which the understanding is commonly the bubble."

The Graces help a man in life almost as much as the Muses. We all know that "one man may steal a horse, while another may not look over a hedge;" and why? because the one will do it pleasantly, the other disagreeably. Horace tell us that even Youth and Mercury, the God of Eloquence and of the Arts, were powerless without the Graces.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Darlingtons of Corner Farm, Wettenhall

As a background to explaining the 'Darlingtons of Corner Farm, Wettenhall, I have provided my Cambridge Graduation picture (1965) above. This shows 'my family' - me in my finery, with Meg, Horace and sister Sue.

It sparks thoughts of the incongruous composition of our group. The heart of oak, plain-speaking yeoman; the academic, eager to please young graduate; the young nurse and farmer's wife; and Meg.

Horace looks distinctly ill at ease - perhaps reflecting on the strange 'cuckoo' step-son who he had reared (or maybe, much more simply, not feeling so well - he had already started to get angina pains).

Looking back, as I have frequently mentioned to my sister, we owe an enormous debt to Horace. He gave us a place to stand - the Cheshire countryside. He provided a secure home and livelihood. He taught us hard work, story-telling and humour.

He was very much loved.


(Best presentation Glenn Miller)

.. that I love you so
Awake or sleeping
My heart's in your keeping
And calling to you soft and low

My wonderful one
Whenever I'm dreaming
Love's love-light a-gleaming I see
My wonderful one
How my arms ache to hold, dear
To cuddle and fold you to me

Just you, only you
In the shadowy twilight
In silvery moonlight
There's none like you, I adore you
My life I'll live for you,
Oh, my wonderful, wonderful one.


Meg was as her brother Ron commented, at her funeral, ‘life itself’. She was very hard to ignore and sometimes quite challenging.

My ‘cousin’ (actually Meg’s cousin but the generations got out-of-step) the younger Reg Salter (grandson of Joseph Salter) had the last word in an email ….

"I always had great respect for your Mum....she spoke in a way which I had never encountered, of things of which I had never heard.....politics, current affairs, relationships, sex....

It gave me a view of what in those days seemed like a bohemian slant on life.....so novel to my ears.

You may feel there was a price to pay, but you were nevertheless very lucky to have such intellectual stimulation on tap.

As Oscar Wilde remarked:

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious”

Meg was rarely tedious.

The rakish Darlingtons - Horace & George c1938

Horace with the Morgan 3-Wheeler at Hoolgrave Manor (with female companion and brother George on the 'Dickie Seat')

Horace Darlington (5th June 1917 - 4th August 1968)

Although he belonged to an old and well-established Cheshire dairy farming family, my step-father Horace Darlington had a pretty rough upbringing.

He somewhat bitterly recalled being put in the dolly tub (the fluted galvanized barrel into which laundry was placed to be pounded by the pronged 'dolly' that served as a hand-driven washing machine agitator) - to be kept quiet and out of harm's way.

He also bore something of a grudge against his father Herbert for not giving him enough credit for his rabbit snaring prowess. Apparently, Horace would bring in his rabbits, his mother would stew them, and Old Herbert would dole out the stew, giving the best meat to brothers George and Dick - and leaving the ribs for Horace.

Anyhow, he appears to have grown up to be a significant and admired ladies man who gained a good deal of kudos from running a three-wheeler Morgan sportscar.


[by Robbie Burns, 1782]

My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;
He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne'er a farthing, O;
For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.

Then out into the world my course I did determine, O;
Tho' to be rich was not my wish, yet to be great was charming, O;
My talents they were not the worst, nor yet my education, O:
Resolv'd was I at least to try to mend my situation, O.

In many a way, and vain essay, I courted Fortune's favour, O;
Some cause unseen still stept between, to frustrate each endeavour, O;
Sometimes by foes I was o'erpower'd, sometimes by friends forsaken, O;
And when my hope was at the top, I still was worst mistaken, O.

Then sore harass'd and tir'd at last, with Fortune's vain delusion, O,
I dropt my schemes, like idle dreams, and came to this conclusion, O;
The past was bad, and the future hid, its good or ill untried, O;
But the present hour was in my pow'r, and so I would enjoy it, O.

No help, nor hope, nor view had I, nor person to befriend me, O;
So I must toil, and sweat, and moil, and labour to sustain me, O;
To plough and sow, to reap and mow, my father bred me early, O;
For one, he said, to labour bred, was a match for Fortune fairly, O.

Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor, thro' life I'm doom'd to wander, O,
Till down my weary bones I lay in everlasting slumber, O:
No view nor care, but shun whate'er might breed me pain or sorrow, O;
I live to-day as well's I may, regardless of to-morrow, O.

But cheerful still, I am as well as a monarch in his palace, O,
Tho' Fortune's frown still hunts me down, with all her wonted malice, O:
I make indeed my daily bread, but ne'er can make it farther, O:
But as daily bread is all I need, I do not much regard her, O.

When sometimes by my labour, I earn a little money, O,
Some unforeseen misfortune comes gen'rally upon me, O;
Mischance, mistake, or by neglect, or my goodnatur'd folly, O:
But come what will, I've sworn it still, I'll ne'er be melancholy, O.

All you who follow wealth and power with unremitting ardour, O,
The more in this you look for bliss, you leave your view the farther, O:
Had you the wealth Potosi boasts, or nations to adore you, O,
A cheerful honest-hearted clown I will prefer before you, O

Sam & Theo: Seido Karate Grading, Berhampore Dojo, September 2009



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

18 Glasgow Street - the original family home in Wellington

Eric Johnson wins the London - Brighton Walk 1939 (Harry at rear)

Roshi John 'Daido' Loori (14th June 1931 - 9th October 2009)

Buddhists seek the path – which is sometimes hidden, sometimes light. Ultimately one has to be a lamp unto oneself – but there are great teachers who shine a pure light. John ‘Daido’ Loori was one of those.

He made me aware that contradictions, uncertainties and trade-offs provide a nexus for much of human experience – but that a good heart is everything. As Buddhism simultaneously teaches: ‘we are nothing special’, though ‘it is no small thing to be born human’.

Sometimes the path can seem narrow and distant, lost in the mountain mist, surrounded by deep pitfalls. But once attained, even for a short spell, it can roll forward like a broad road appearing to stretch ever onwards, putting your feet on solid ground. With your feet on the ground you can be authentic, and as you move forward there is presence and a sense of living in the moment.

I wrote this personal remembrance of Daido for the NZ Zen magazine Manawa:

“As someone who has not been very active recently with the NZ sangha, I feel a bit of a fraud in putting forward some comments on Daido. However, the plea for contributions has overcome my reticence:

He taught me the value of 'compassionate indifference' - perhaps compassionate objectivity or clarity of action are other ways of expressing what I am trying to say.

I had been hooked on the idea that gurus and roshis were inevitably saintly. Clearly, pure in mind and big of heart, they were beyond the norm, and capable of superhuman concern for everyone and everything.

This gave me, as a mere mortal, a good excuse to pretend to be a disciple of the sacred rather than to facing up to dealing with the messy real world and messy real people (where everything in the sacred we inevitably profane – and everything in the real world is sacred).

Daido had a unique ability though to cut through this kind of sophistry.

I once made the mistake at an audience with him of responding to his inquiry about my practice by blurting out that I was getting married. 'Good luck', he observed, and the audience was over.

On another occasion, I confided my concern about the difficulties that sometimes arise in making ethical decisions that bear both on one's one emotional health and the expectations and wellbeing of others.

Sensing my real anxiety, he recounted a story about his personal experience in the Korean War. He had been on sentry duty at a camp that was a possible target of infiltration by North Korean and Chinese troops. Peering across the perimeter of the camp into the night, he heard a sound that could have heralded a hostile raid.

On the other hand, it could have been the half-mad. poverty-stricken old man who came when the camp was quiet to sift through the rubbish.

A shot at the noise might save his comrades from being annihilated if there were indeed intruders - but if he was wrong, the old man would die needlessly.

He didn't shoot and it turned out to be the old man - no one was harmed.

But, as Daido remarked: 'I could not have been held guilty if I had fired at the shadow. I just did my best to make the right decision - that was all I could have done - and after all, I have to bear the knowledge that I might have endangered my colleagues in arms.

If you weigh all the evidence and take decisions with a good heart, you should stand firm and not look back'.

My third anecdote is about attending one of his wonderful public talks at the Downstage Theatre, Wellington. He electrified the audience and everyone who attended was deeply touched. However, I found him outside after the talk shaking and drawing heavily on a cigarette.

He wasn't a saint – just an exceptionally decent and highly committed human being.

With my love and deep respect

Keith Johnson”

Eric Harry Johnson (my Uncle Eric) - Quiet military hero and champion road walker


[in his own words]

Early Years

My name is Eric Harry Johnson. I was born on the 8th of February 1912. My father was Harry Johnson and my mother was Constance Maud Mary Johnson. I was the youngest of three sons of the marriage. Bob was the eldest, his real name was Robert but we called him ‘Bob’. He became an accountant. Cyril was the other brother who was the cleverest of all three. He got both a BA and an MA. Unfortunately he was killed during the 2nd World War in a flying accident.

We all went to the same school which was St John’s Bowyer School, Clapham. I never really reached the academic level of my two brothers. I was constantly reminded of that by the teachers. However, after spending my time there I won a scholarship to Archbishop Temple’s School in Lambeth – where I stayed until I was 16 years of age.

I wasn’t particularly bright but I enjoyed all the sporting activities. When I left school, my father got me a job with a firm of stockjobbers on the London Stock Exchange – where, including the war years, I stayed for 25 years. After that I joined a Yorkshire firm of Wool Brokers on the New London Wool Terminal Exchange. I worked for them for about nine years before moving to the sugar market. There I stayed for 15 years until my retirement.

My earliest recollections of family life were the 1st World War years. I can remember when the Zeppelins raided London we all rushed down to the nearest Underground Station – where we stayed until it was ‘all-clear’. It was very scary.

When I was about 11 years old, the family broke up because we had not paid the rent. We got evicted from our house in Clapham. Bob went to live in digs while Cyril and I went to the Home of the Good Shepherd not far away. It was a very good home. We had a most enjoyable time there.

Work and Marriage

After that, when I started work, the family got together again and we lived in Lewisham to start with and then on to Brockley, and finally in Lee, South East London. That is where I got engaged and from there I left to get married.

When I got married the wife and I lived in 240 Clockhouse Road, Elmer’s End, Kent for 11 years. We moved on to 65 Conisborough Crescent, Catford, SE London, where we remained for about 38 years – before moving to Holly Court, Bellingham Road, Catford in 1988.

Some recollections of my early life were of food shortage during the 1st World War. Things got so bad at times that I would come home and all I had for dinner was a plate of haricot beans. I remember one Christmas we had bloaters for Christmas dinner. However, nobody is to blame for that. The War was won and that was that.

In 1931 I met my wife. I went to a local hop on a Saturday night. I did not see her during the dance and certainly did not dance with her and was rather keen on some other girl. When I got my coat on, I rushed down the road and thinking it was the girl I had been dancing with, I put my arm through hers – and it was the wrong girl. It was my future wife.

Anyway being gallant, I walked he home. We walked right down Lee High Road, Lewisham High Street through Ladywell Recreation Park, up Randlesdown Road, up Canadian Avenue into Bellingham - quite a long walk. I think I got home a bit late that night. I got rollicked by my mother for being out so late.

Anyway, we met up again and she asked me if I would like to go for a walk in the country, on an all-day Sunday hike. We were not alone. I think we went with two other couples. That started our walking activities. From then on, every summer we used to go hiking every Sunday without exception. It did not cost very much. We would take our own grub, have a few beers here and there and a cup of tea. This was mainly in Kent – around Shoreham, Westerham, around Penshurst, Chiddingston (where naughty wives were tied up and punished) – all those places - lovely countryside.

Then we started going on holidays together. We had holidays in Coombe Martin about three times. We had a holiday in Looe, a holiday in Barmouth, Wales, in Bude, and finally we had our honeymoon in Salcombe, Devon. We got married on the 24th of June, 1939.

The Second World War certainly interrupted our married life. For the first six and a half years of married life, the longest period I spent with my wife was two weeks. We had two weeks honeymoon, two weeks at home and I had Territorial Camp for two weeks, and then two weeks at home before I was called up to serve in the Army. Apart from the odd leave, I did not see much of her.

During that time, our twin daughters were born to us, Judith and Gillian. I did not really know them until they were about four and a half years old. We got to know each other and had some very happy times. We went walking quite a bit. We had some nice holidays. We went to Torquay, Minehead, the Isle of Wight. I think the next time was one near Bognor, on a caravan site – and also at Selsea, where we had the most miserable weather for a whole fortnight. The girls quite enjoyed themselves – they met some local lads and we did not see much of them.

My Daughters and my Grandchildren

Both my daughters eventually got married - and my vivid memories of both those weddings are of when I was taking them to the church in the car – I cried. God know why – I suppose it was having lived with them for so long, it was hard to lose them. I suppose we were quite a close sort of family.

Now I would like to mention our grandchildren. Firstly, Fiona and Kirsteen – the daughters of Gillian. We had a lot to do with bringing them up. We used to have them many weekends and also at New Year’s Eve. When they came to us, we would go for a walk around Beckenham Place Park with the dog. In the evening, we always seemed to play cards. I can always remember this because my wife used to provide us with snacks – and they had those sticky twiglet things. When they shuffled the cards, they got sticky and in the end, you could not shuffle them because they got stuck together.

We used to lark about. They used to like me to play that game where I used to say ‘I’m a little Prairie flower, growing wilder every hour, nobody cares to cultivate me, I’m as wild as can be’. When I said ‘as wild as can be’, the girls used to fly up to the end of the room – and then would come back and say ‘do it again’.

[I checked the reference – and came up with this:

The following song was the song hit of the 9th International Rotary Convention at Kansas City in 1918.
It was sung by everybody upon every occasion outside the regular business sessions of the Convention – and sung once during a Convention session when Andrew Home-Martin of London, England, referred to it.
The last line is repeated while the singer places the tip of his index finger on the crown of his head – and whirls around once in time with the rhythm”.

THE ROTARIAN, August 1918, Vol XIII, No 2]

Eric continues:

And I can always remember Kirsteen on one New Year’s Eve when she was about four years old – she wanted to stay up and see the New Year in. About 11 o’clock, her eyelids began to fall and we had to keep prodding her to keep her awake. Eventually, she did ‘see’ the New Year in – but did not know much about it!

Then there is Judith’s son Brett, who we saw a lot of when we visited Canada. We often went out with him alone. He seemed to enjoy himself with us. We lost him in Square One Shopping mall and could not find him anywhere – but he eventually turned up. Over in Canada, we were apt to get on the wrong bus to go home. One day Brett said ‘We are on the wrong bus but I know where to get off’ – and when we got off, he said ‘It’s only a short mile back to my house’. This turned out to be about two miles.

Brett always knew what he wanted. He was very fond of the toys you assemble yourself and he used to get round us until we bought the damn thing. It gave him much pleasure putting them together and he used to do it exceptionally well.

Happy Days!

Another recollection I have is of our Christmas parties. We had some hilarious parties. We all seemed to let our hair down and have a good time. I was introduced to all the dances – the jive, the twist and the locomotion. Everybody had to do a ‘turn’. We had An and Lionel do a ‘turn’, the Watts came over and did their ‘turn’, It was real um-dinger times.

Another recollection I have is when Judy came home from an Aquascutum Christmas Party. I think she had so much champagne that when she left, she had no ruddy idea where she was. She came home and thought it must have been past midnight and that we were all in bed, so she locked the doors. In fact, we were out and when we came home we could not get in – so we got the garden prop and hammered it against the window to try to wake her up but it made no difference. We got the dog barking and eventually we had to break a window to get in. Happy days!

My wife and I have been married 56 years. It has been quite a pleasant sort of marriage – we have been very compatible. We have a few arguments but nothing very serious – and it soon blows over. I think at the moment, we are very dependent on one another.

My Dogs

Now I must talk about the dogs in my life .....

..... extensive section follows on ‘Jimp’, ‘Jacko’ and ‘Sandy’ – still avoiding saying anything very personal or anything specific about his own quite considerable achievements in life – this was a stoic and unassuming generation. Finally .....

My Days in the Army

Now I must talk about my days in the Army. I was called up two weeks before the war started and I think it was 1942 when the Army was expanded – they needed more officers. So a bunch of us were sent along for an interview and strangely enough I passed and went on to Shrivenham to a training camp. Most of the time in England, I was on active defense and we guarded things like oil installations, ball bearing factories – but mainly air fields – although I did have a good period on the defense of Liverpool docks, which was a most interesting time.

From there, I was posted to a unit going overseas to make up the numbers. They were ex-regular army units called the Royal Ulster Rifles and, with them, I saw active service in Algeria, Tunisia, Malta, Sicily and both sides of Italy from south to north. Somehow, my face seemed to fit there and I got on very well indeed. Eventually, I got promoted to the rank of Captain.


The 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles (Royal Ulster Rifles) was created in April 1939 and brought rapidly to strength. After training and spending some times in coastal defence in England, the battalion was assigned in June 1942 to the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade, alongside the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers (the "Faughs") and the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (The "Skins", later replaced by the 2nd R Innis Fus). The Brigade landed in North Africa in late 1942 with the 6th Armoured Division, and in March 1943, during the campaign in Tunisia, was transferred to the 78th (Battleaxe) Infantry Division.

Under the prestigious command of the Eighth Army, the 2 LIR were to fight in Sicily, and after crossing to mainland Italy in late September 1943, the battle of Termoli, against the Barbara Line on the River Trigno, the crossing of the River Sangro (Gustav Line) and the battle of Monte Cassino in spring 1944. After a brief spell of rest in Egypt, the Division took again its place on the line of battle, fighting in the Po Valley and the Argenta Gap. The end of the war found the London Irish entering in Austria.
(Source : The London Irish at War : A History of the Battalions of the London Irish Rifles in World War II, by S. T. A. R, London 1949).

The illustration depicts a Bren gunner of the 2 LIR in the Autumn-Winter 1944, when the battalion was fighting for small hills in the Po Valley, between Florence and Bologna in Northern Italy - under the "most depressing weather", as the historian of the London Irish noted – so much for "Sunny Italy".

He wears the standard dress of the British Tommy, with a wool-lined leather jerkin, woollen scarf and gloves for added warmth. His insignia are the "battleaxe" of the 78th Inf Div and, under the rifle-green arm-of-service stripe, the green shamrock of the 38th Irish Brigade. The black triangle on the shamrock is the battalion indicator.

Eric continues:

I have failed to mention my walking days. When I was a young lad at the Stock Exchange, they had an annual London to Brighton Walk. One year, when I was about 21, I got on my bike and cycled to Purley to watch the walkers go through. I thought – if only I could walk from London to Brighton, I would have achieved something in my life. So, the following year, I did a bit of training and had a go. I finished in about 10 hours 24 minutes.

The second year took about 9 hours 20 minutes. The third year I was getting near the nine hours mark. In the fourth and fifth years I broke nine hours for which I got a medal. I finished second in 1936, 1937 and 1938 – and eventually won it in 1939.

Then the War came and, after the War, they were very keen to get the event started again. I was not particularly interested but I thought that I had better play the game and have a go. I won the next two years in 1947 and 1948. So I won it three times in succession and came in second three times in succession

Background: London to Brighton Walk

Origins of the Great Race

Early in 1903 William Bramson, a member of the London Stock Exchange, had the idea that the Exchange should join the current craze of pedestrianism, and that members of the House and their clerks be persuaded to attempt to walk from Westminster Bridge to the sea front at Brighton, a distance of 53 miles, in a time of 12 hours and 30 minutes.

Bramson consulted with a few friends in the Market and subsequently a committee was formed and the organisation of the race was put in motion. Some 100 years later members and clerks of the Stock Exchange are still attempting to do the same.

The idea of such an event caught the imagination of the House and soon they had 100 entries. It was decided no charge would be made for entries and that the first man to complete the course would receive a gold medal, value 10 guineas, with second and third medals to the value of 5 guineas each. It was also agreed that there would be a sealed handicap race with a silver cup to the value of 10 guineas to the winner, with prizes to second and third, and that Bramson would be responsible for the handicapping.

Because of the amount of organisation required, it was agreed that the race should be held on the 1st May, that being a Stock Exchange holiday. Entrants started training, some even employed professional trainers, and members were sighted striding through the country roads most weekends.

Near the date several sweep stakes were organised in the House, the largest being in the Kaffir market with a first prize of £350. By the eve of the race bets of several thousands of pounds were made and it was reported some market pitches resembled miniature Tattersalls.

On the day of the race the weather was wet and windy. The race had had much publicity and it was reported that 30,000 spectators were in the Westminster Bridge area. Because of the crush, the competitors failed to reach the start line at the official time and the race started with the bulk of the competitors three minutes late. A large number of mounted and foot police were required to clear a passage through the human mass to allow the 87 official competitors to proceed the first few miles.

Prominent companies were present on the road advertising their wares. Among the most popular of these were the OXO cars, who handed competitors refreshments which included OXO, hot or cold, OXO and champagne, OXO and soda, cheese, biscuits, bananas and apples.

The winner of this first race was E F Broad, a clerk with the broking firm of Marsden & Co, who completed the course in nine hours 30 minutes 1 second, and the winner of the sealed handicap was S E Knight in 10 hours 8 minutes 30 seconds. Of the 87 starters, 77 completed the course in the allotted time. In 1910 the Stock Exchange Athletic Club was formed and has been responsible for the organisation of the races since, although the second race was not until 1912.