18 April 2003

Ullswater: Our Family and WW2…My Brother John

OldEric says :-) My brother John born August 17th 1937 was not long turned two years old at the start of WW2 in 1939, I was three and a half years older and heading for six years old. During these early years three and a half age difference was a wide gap. John was essentially still a toddler and I was attending school. Our interests were widely different and so we didn’t really interact with each other at this time. I was allowed to go out with my friend Peter and John was not allowed to wander far without supervision. During these early years there were no local children of John’s age group and it must have been a lonely existence for him.

The thing I remember most vividly of John was his very blond hair during these early days at Sharrow Bay, inherited from our mother’s Brough genes. Otherwise I have only un-synchronised glimpses of John until he reached school age in 1942. One other thing comes to mind, a simple thing. Our main meal of the day was at 12pm… lunchtime; we often had chips with our meal, which were deliciously home made. Mum usually seemed to make too many chips and as afternoon progressed she would wrap the cold chips in two paper cones for us and send John and I down the lane parallelling Sharrow gardens with the chips. I guess this was to keep us out from under her feet. We liked cold chips and we willingly went with her bribe.

John as far as I remember didn’t go to Barton School as I did, he went to Yanwath Primary School close to Eamont Bridge near Penrith. A much better school academically than Barton School. He travelled to school by Bell’s taxi, which was contracted to the local Education department. He got over the two and a half mileage minimum ruling by catching the taxi at a point father down the road from where my walk to school was measured. From the Cottage, by crossing a paddock via two gates and a footpath brought him to Thwaite Hill Farm entrance gate which when measured was just over two and a half miles to the nearest school. The Bell children went to Yanwath School too so this suited John very well.

How many children travelled by this means, I don’t know, the taxi seem to be very full as it passed me on my bike. This was the same taxi which used to pass me as I walked to school before I got my bike and I used to wish that I could travel that way too. Later with my bike I think I preferred this mode of transport best, it allowed me to stop at will and explore and look at anything which caught my eye.

Children can sometimes be heartless when young and I must confess I was no exception. One day we were visiting with our parents our friends the Corletts’ down and along the road to Howtown at Sharrow Cottages situated on the lower reaches of Barton Fell. Not to be confused with our home which was known as The Cottage at Sharrow Bay. My friend Peter was with us. Peter and I decided to go up to nearby Hobley’s Cave and John came along with us. I picture him as probably five or at the most six at the time. We went up via the fell track and on our way back we returned via a lower track and John was started to struggle to keep up with us. John fell further and further behind us and called out to us to wait which we did. When John hurried and caught up we continued on and, probably Peter and I with a short rest accelerated our pace. John dropped back again and we took no notice of his calls except to turn round and tell him if he didn’t run and catch us up we would leave him, and we did.

As we neared the Corlett’s home we became worried, he was no longer in sight so we decided to back track to him. Not in a fit of conscience but a fear of the trouble we would be in. There was John tearfully plodding along trying his best to get back. We sat him down to rest, straightened him up and slowly returned with him.

Even today I still feel a little twinge of conscience for that episode and sometimes in my later years when I am reminded of Sharrow Bay occasionally my mind will drift back to the scene of that plodding figure of John making his way slowly back.

Re-reading this post leads me to think John did go to Barton school in his early years.

17 April 2003

Where have I been?

OldEric says : ) I hope to have something written over Easter. Think I have writers block at the moment, or is it the upheaval of the coming UK trip?? Who knows. I am trying to sort out brother John and I'm desperatly short of early memories, I was hoping something would come to the surface from the swirling depths of what is my mind. Not much has surfaced yet of John's early years.