Stars from Mrs. Wright

   At school today Mrs. Wright gave me a star for Geography:

The Pennine Range is the backbone of England. London is the capital of England. It stands on the banks of the River Thames. The Thames is a very important river. Large ships bring precios [sic] goods from all over the world to the warehouses on the banks of the river.
Good *


   I got another star today for my composition:—

The Mouse Conference
In a certain part of the country the mice were in constant fear of a big cat. Not one of them dared venture from its hole and were practicly [sic] starving. One day they had a meeting. A young and conceited mouse held the conference. After a little while they said the best thing to do was to tie a bell round the cats neck and they would have a warning. There was a loud noise and the meeting was just about to end when a young mouse said “While I agree it is a good plan it has one serious handicap, who is going to tie the bell round the cat’s neck?
Very Good *
Mrs. Wright made me write
Practically   Practically   Practically

When I get 10 stars I can have a Gold star.


   We broke up today and I do not have to go back to school until February 7th. At school I wrote a composition:

My Bicycle
For a long time I have wanted a bike. If I ever had one I would be very happy. I would have the handle-bars made of chromium. The tyres should be black Dunlop tyres. When I have the bike, I will buy a Dunlop out-fit, and anything I need. I want two lights too. The saddles are generally made with leather and three holes in the top like mine [i.e. like the three-wheeler which I already have].


   I wrote in my Composition book today:—

February has twenty eight days. It is a month of all kinds of weather including snow, hail, rain, frost, wind and bright sunshine.


   I only got 7 for the Composition I wrote today:

I was walking slowly through the wood when suddenly a dog barked. I turned round, but I couldn’t see a dog in sight. So I started to search for the dog. At last I went back home, and as I walked, I saw the dog hideing [sic] in the trees.

I am disappointed not to get a star for it. It is probably because I missed the title off, which was The Dog.


   At school we had to write Compositions on our favourite season and our favourite lesson:

The seasons I like best are spring and summer. I like spring best because the trees are blossoming and then the leaves appear. There are the spring flowers too, such as daffodils, tulips and crocuses. Some of the birds come back from Africa like the swallows.
   My best lesson at school is history. I like it because it is about brave heroes like Columbus who found the new world which he thought was India and China. Some of the history stories are about wars long, long ago

Mrs. Wright has only given me 8 out of 10, and I am disappointed not to get a star.


A plane has crashed at Digbeth

   There was a terrible plane crash at Digbeth Midland Red bus depot last night. The German are not coming any more so it was one of ours, and the three crew men were killed.


   We went to Granma and Grandad’s for dinner and everybody was talking about the plane crash. There was a picture of the firemen looking at the wreckage in Thursday night’s Evening Despatch and another in yesterday’s Birmingham Gazette. Granma said she had shed a few tears for the men. People in the Bull Ring saw the plane in difficulties and then saw it nose-dive on the bus depot. It hit a Midland Red bus which was outside and then reared up onto a workshop and burst into flames. One of the crew was pulled out by a police sergeant from Digbeth Police Station across the road but the man was already dead. Last night’s Birmingham Mail said that one of the men who was killed was Sergeant Observer Wireless Operator David Huddleston. Before he joined the R.A.F. he used to work at the Alliance Assurance Co. Ltd. in town, only half-a-mile from where the crash was. His father Mr. R.R. Huddlestone lives at 220 Chelmsley Lane, Marston Green. Four Birmingham City bus conductresses were sitting in the Midland Red bus station just before the crash but went to have a cup of tea in the canteen, so they were not hurt, but I feel very sad about the airmen.


   At school we had to write a Composition on a day at the seaside, so I wrote about our holiday in Rhyl in 1939:

When I went to the seaside last time it was a sunny day. I saw the waves rush up onto the sand and then back to the sea. There were children too making sand- castles and enjoying donkey-rides. Once or twice I saw an ice-cream-man selling ice-cream. I saw two children sailing toy boats on the sea, but I collected sea- shells. One day the most exiting [sic] day in my holiday I went to see a Punch and Judy show.

Mrs. Wright gave me 9 out of 10 and Good for it, but not a star.


   At school Mrs. Wright made me write:—

   exciting   exciting   exciting
Then she read a poem to us about Abou Ben Adhem [from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by James Henry Leigh Hunt] and made us copy the first verse from the blackboard:—

   Abou Ben Adhem
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and a lily in bloom
An angel writing in a book of gold.


   At school we learned Pippa’s Song:—

The year’s at the Spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn
God’s in His heaven
All’s right with the world.


   It is Good Friday today.


A baby brother

   Mammy was bathing me in the sink and said would I like a little brother. I said yes.


   We went back to school today after the Easter holiday. Mrs. Wright made us copy from the blackboard:—

A term well begun, is a job well done

And made us practice writing W:—

wa   we   wi   wu   wo   wa   we   wi   wu   wo   water   while   wisdom
Whistle while you work


The Union Jack

   Today is St. George’s Day. St. George’s Cross is a red upright cross on a white background. St. Andrew’s Cross is a white diagonal cross on a blue background. St. Patrick’s Cross is a red diagonal cross on a white background. The three together make the Union Jack. Scotland was joined to England in 1603 and Ireland was joined to England in 1801, so the flag was different before then. People fly the flag at half-mast when someone important dies. It is important to fly the flag the right way up which is with the broad white band at the top of the flagpole. I learned this at cubs. It is also important not to stick stamps on upside down as this is an insult to the King.

MONDAY 29th MAY 1944

   It is Whit Monday today.



   This morning Mammy was kneeling on the floor, polishing the lino and listening to the wireless. There was an announcement about the invasion and Mammy stopped to pray.


Lights in the sky

   In the playground I was looking up into the blue sky and saw a tiny streak of light, then another and another, like tiny fairy beings. I told Margaret and she looked up into the sky, and I think she saw them too. Soon all the boys and girls were gazing into the air and everyone was very excited. Afterwards Mr. Olarenshaw went round all the classes to talk about it.





   Mammy said she is going into hospital, and we are very frightened. Mrs. Mayeur is going to look after us.

  Elsie M. Mayeur lived with her husband Harold and daughter Beryl at 108 Olton Boulevard East, next door but one to Reginald C. and Ethel L. Moore at 104. They were the parents of George A. Moore who ran Floodgate Street Mission, where we all attended on Sunday afternoons. Miss Dorothy Stanley who played the piano at the Mission (and gave me two or three piano lessons) lived at 96 Olton Boulevard East. It is almost certain that when Mr Moore learned that Mam was going into hospital and someone would be needed to look after us until Dad returned from work in the evening, he recommended Mrs Mayeur.


   Mammy had the operation today [at the Women’s Hospital, Showell Green Lane]. Daddy didn’t go to work. I went to school and when I came home for dinner she was not here. Freda took Clarice and Julia up town and when they came back Mammy had gone.

  The operation started at 11.30am and finished at 12.15pm. The surgeon was Mrs Lloyd and she was assisted by Dr Gray. The anaesthetic was administered by Dr Cowhey. Mrs Lloyd performed a hysterotomy (Caesarean) and sterilization.     Mrs Hilda Nora Lloyd was probably the most eminent obstetrician and gynaecologist in the country. The younger daughter of John Shufflebotham (d.1937), a master grocer, and Emma Amelia Jenkins, she was born at 170 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath on Tuesday 11th August 1891 and won a foundation scholarship to King Edward’s High School for Girls in New Street where she studied, 1902–10. Afterwards she went to Birmingham University and gained a B.Sc degree in 1914 and then M.B. and Ch.B. in 1916. Her post-graduate training was at the London Hospital, where she gained her M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. in 1918, and F.R.C.S. in 1920     Subsequently Hilda became senior surgeon at the Birmingham and Midland Hospital for Women and the Birmingham Maternity Hospital; lecturer at Birmingham University 1934, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 1946-51.     In 1936 Hilda was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and was its first woman President, 1949–52. The Hilda Lloyd Hostel for medical students was opened at Dudley Road Hospital on Tuesday 21st November 1950, named after her in recognition of her role in its creation.     In 1951 and in her 60th year she was created a D.B.E. and it was she who presented Princess Elizabeth when the soon Queen-to-be was made an honorary Fellow of the College the same year.     Fair-haired and slightly built, Hilda married comparatively late in life, outlived two husbands and had no children. Her first marriage, on Saturday 27th December 1930, was to Bertram Arthur Lloyd, Professor of Forensic Medicine at Birmingham University, 1932–1942; he died in 1948. She married Baron Theodore Rose (1892–1978), a surgeon colleague and widower, the following year.     Dame Hilda retired in 1954, becoming Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Birmingham University She and her husband lived at Baysham Orchard, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire, where their hobbies included mountaineering and gardening. After her husband’s death in 1978 she moved to Broome House, Clent, and died there on Sunday 18th July 1982 as the result of a stroke. The funeral service was held in the parish church and a memorial plaque was placed in Birmingham hospitals in 1985. She left £836,225, including substantial legacies to the Women’s Medical Federation, the N.S.P.C.C. and R.S.P.C.A.     My mother, who had a consuming interest in doctors and surgeons and was impressed by titles, would have been chuffed to know that her surgeon was so distinguished a lady!     There is a curious twist to this story. As I was finishing the above, on Thursday 23rd November 2006, Freda looked up the details of her birth as recorded by her father in her Birthday Book. The doctors attending Freda’s mother were “Bertram Lloyd” and the family physician “Basil Cartwright.” Freda remembers being told that a lady doctor attended her birth. This is clearly Mrs Lloyd, and not her forensic science professor husband!     Freda, an only child, was born at the Dingle Nursing Home, Moseley, on Monday 8th February 1937 when her mother was 41½ years old. There was a risk to both mother and child and so Mrs Lloyd was procured for her skills and experience. Hilda was on hand therefore to save the lives of both Freda and her mother. Then on Friday 7th July 1944 she operated to save my mother’s life, but my brother’s life had to be sacrificed. I find this very poignant.


God will heal Mammy

   Mammy is still in the Women’s Hospital [at Showell Green Lane]. This morning I was in the bedroom and heard Daddy talking in the garden to Mr. Davis [Harold Davis of 5 Circular Road} and he said it is serious and she is very ill. She has got disseminated sclerosis. It made me very frightened and I was crying. My hot breath made the window steam up and I wrote with my finger on the window pane GOD WILL HEAL MAMMY.

  The Lord did indeed heal my mother but she never spoke to me again about any baby brother. One day I heard her telling a neighbour about the operation and how she had asked the nurse “What was it?” The nurse said that she was not allowed to tell her but it had been “a baby boy, perfectly formed”.     My mother lived almost 53 more years, dying on Tuesday 13 May 1997 — see my entry for that day. In 1955 I was working in the Bio-Assay Laboratory at the General Hospital under Dr. Robert Schneider. It transpired that he was the same Dr Schneider who had treated my mother. He remembered her case — disseminated sclerosis had been a mistaken diagnosis, he said.     I named my unborn brother Arthur Gordon Paul, and on Sunday 29th October 2006 (All Souls/All Saints) he was specially remembered in beautiful services at St Benedict’s and St John’s, Glastonbury, and also at St Mary’s, Acocks Green, where he would have been christened. He is now part of the family. I know I shall see him one day, and also Hilda Lloyd. Nothing and no one is ever lost.


   Daddy has been to see Mammy in hospital. He can only go in visiting hours for a few minutes.


   Mammy is still in hospital. Daddy and Freda went to work. I went to school. Mrs. Mayeur looked after us but the dinner was horrid.


   Mammy is still in hospital. We do not like potatoes with no salt in them.


   Mammy is still in hospital. We do not like Mrs. Mayeur putting Beryl in the pram.


   Mammy is still in hospital. I went to school.


   Mammy is still in hospital. I went to school.


   Mammy is still in hospital.


   Daddy went on the 31A to see Mammy in hospital. She is getting better.


   Mammy is coming home from hospital tomorrow.


   Mammy came home from the hospital today. She has been very ill. She is going to look after us now. Thank you, O God.


I want to be a teacher

   We broke up for the holidays today. I have got my report [jpg]. I have come 6th out of 53 children in Mrs. Wright’s class. I am very good indeed at Arithmetic, English, Reading, Composition and Writing. I am very good at Oral Arithmetic, and I am also good at History and Geography. Mrs. Wright says: “I am very satisfied with Brian’s work. He takes very great pains with all he does. As the youngest in the class he has done remarkably well.” Mrs. Wright asked me what I want to be when I grow up and I said a teacher.

My report for the year ending 28th July 1944

MONDAY 31st JULY 1944

I am 9

Some cards for my birthday today:

From Dorothy, Tom and Jennifer
card/440731k.jpg card/440731l.jpg
From Aunt Doll, Uncle Bill and
card/440731m.jpg card/440731n.jpg
From Bill, Ruth, Billy and Ken


History book

   Freda took us into town yesterday afternoon to buy me a book for my birthday. We went to the Midland Educational and I looked at the History books. Freda bought me History Through Familiar Things, Part II Shelter and Society by J.R. Reeve, B.A., B.Sc. (Econ,) Head Master, Mile End Central School, London, and I have been looking at it today.

   It is a wonderful book with 65 illustrations and four coloured plates. One of these is of the “Flying Scotsman” passing the “Royal Scot” with Edinburgh Castle in the background, and there is also a picture showing three early steam locomotives, including Stephenson’s “Rocket”. There are also photographs of the Pyramids of Giza built 5,000 years ago, the Acropolis of Athens, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Crystal Palace in London. [jpg]


77 Air Raids

   Daddy brought the Birmingham Gazette home from work as usual. On the front page it says that 2,227 people got killed in 77 Air Raids in Birmingham. 3,021 people were seriously injured and 3,689 were slightly hurt. The worst raid was on the night we got bombed out, Tuesday-Wednesday 19th-20th November 1940. 615 people were killed, 542 seriously injured and about the same number slightly hurt. The next worst raid was on Wednesday-Thursday 9th-10th April 1941. 350 were killed and 428 seriously injured, and about the same number not so badly hurt. 10,000 houses were totally destroyed in the War and well over 100,000 were badly damaged, including ours. A lot of the damage was done by land mines, which is what we had at Belchers Lane. In the late news it says that a flying bomb crossed the east coast last night near a farm and damaged some buildings. I am frightened in case they come here.


The Radio Doctor

   The wireless starts at 7 a.m. on the British Home Service with the News, and then at 7.15 we are supposed to do Physical Exercises. Gramophone records come on at 7.30 and Prayers at 7.55. The News comes on again at 8 a.m. and then the Radio Doctor [Dr. Charles Hill] at 8.15. We like to listen to him because he is sounds quite funny.


Film Fun

   I have had two big books for Christmas. One is The Treasure Book of Fairy Tales and it contains Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, The Little Brother and Sister, The Great White Bear and the Trolls (A Story from the Norse), The Story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Hansel and Grethel, The Enchanted Wood, Dick Whittington, Rabbit’s Eyes (A Korean Fairy Tale), Hans in Luck, Drakestail Goes to See The King, The Storks, The Golden Bird, and Tom Thumb. It is a lovely book with a full colour picture of Cinderella and her sisters at the front, and lots of black and red pictures, and other black-and-white ones which I can colour.

   The other book is Film Fun Annual 1945. Film Fun is my favourite comic. It comes out every Tuesday and has Laurel and Hardy, Joe E. Brown, Old Mother Riley (Lucan and M’Shane), Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, Max Miller and Sydney Howard. There are 96 pages in the Annual, including 8 pages in red and blue, also 2 glossy pages of photographs of Abbott & Costello, Old Mother Riley, George Formby, Laurel & Hardy; and Cowboy Kings of the Screen —Gene Autry, Tim Holt, Roy Rogers, Bill Elliott and Johnny Mack Brown.

  When I look at this book again (Monday 22nd May 2006) I find inside two drawings by my sister Clarice and a B’hamCSLd receipt, dated July 1948, with 205988 and 3s 0d written on it. 205988 is my mother’s check (i.e. share) number at the Birmingham Co-operative Society Limited, and once or twice a year she goes to the offices on the top floor of their High Street premises to collect the dividend. [jpg]

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webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30