Search Results for 'whatever'

Forums Search Search Results for 'whatever'

Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 203 total)
  • Author
    Search Results
  • #6280
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    I started reading a book. In fact I started reading it three weeks ago, and have read the first page of the preface every night and fallen asleep. But my neck aches from doing too much gardening so I went back to bed to read this morning. I still fell asleep six times but at least I finished the preface. It’s the story of the family , initiated by the family collection of netsuke (whatever that is. Tiny Japanese carvings) But this is what stopped me reading and made me think (and then fall asleep each time I re read it)

    “And I’m not entitled to nostalgia about all that lost wealth and glamour from a century ago. And I am not interested in thin. I want to know what the relationship has been between this wooden object that I am rolling between my fingers – hard and tricky and Japanese – and where it has been. I want to be able to reach to the handle of the door and turn it and feel it open. I want to walk into each room where this object has lived, to feel the volume of the space, to know what pictures were on the walls, how the light fell from the windows. And I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt about it and thought about it – if they thought about it. I want to know what it has witnessed.” ― Edmund de Waal, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss

    And I felt almost bereft that none of the records tell me which way the light fell in through the windows.

    I know who lived in the house in which years, but I don’t know who sat in the sun streaming through the window and which painting upon the wall they looked at and what the material was that covered the chair they sat on.

    Were his clothes confortable (or hers, likely not), did he have an old favourite pair of trousers that his mother hated?

    There is one house in particular that I keep coming back to. Like I got on the Housley train at Smalley and I can’t get off. Kidsley Grange Farm, they turned it into a nursing home and built extensions, and now it’s for sale for five hundred thousand pounds. But is the ghost still under the back stairs? Is there still a stain somewhere when a carafe of port was dropped?

    Did Anns writing desk survive? Does someone have that, polished, with a vase of spring tulips on it? (on a mat of course so it doesn’t make a ring, despite that there are layers of beeswaxed rings already)

    Does the desk remember the letters, the weight of a forearm or elbow, perhaps a smeared teardrop, or a comsumptive cough stain?

    Is there perhaps a folded bit of paper or card that propped an uneven leg that fell through the floorboards that might tear into little squares if you found it and opened it, and would it be a rough draft of a letter never sent, or just a receipt for five head of cattle the summer before?

    Did he hate the curtain material, or not even think of it? Did he love the house, or want to get away to see something new ~ or both?

    Did he have a favourite cup, a favourite food, did he hate liver or cabbage?

    Did he like his image when the photograph came from the studio or did he think it made his nose look big or his hair too thin, or did he wish he’d worn his other waistcoat?

    Did he love his wife so much he couldn’t bear to see her dying, was it neglect or was it the unbearableness of it all that made him go away and drink?

    Did the sun slanting in through the dormer window of his tiny attic room where he lodged remind him of ~ well no perhaps he was never in the room in daylight hours at all. Work all day and pub all night, keeping busy working hard and drinking hard and perhaps laughing hard, and maybe he only thought of it all on Sunday mornings.

    So many deaths, one after another, his father, his wife, his brother, his sister, and another and another, all the coughing, all the debility. Perhaps he never understood why he lived and they did not, what kind of justice was there in that?

    Did he take a souvenir or two with him, a handkerchief or a shawl perhaps, tucked away at the bottom of a battered leather bag that had his 3 shirts and 2 waistcoats in and a spare cap,something embroidered perhaps.

    The quote in that book started me off with the light coming in the window and the need to know the simplest things, something nobody ever wrote in a letter, maybe never even mentioned to anyone.

    Light coming in windows. I remeber when I was a teenager I had a day off sick and spent the whole day laying on the couch in a big window with the winter sun on my face all day, and I read Bonjour Tristesse in one sitting, and I’ll never forget that afternoon.  I don’t remember much about that book, but I remember being transported. But at the same time as being present in that sunny window.

    “Stories and objects share something, a patina…Perhaps patina is a process of rubbing back so that the essential is revealed…But it also seems additive, in the way that a piece of oak furniture gains over years and years of polishing.”

    “How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten? There can be a chain of forgetting, the rubbing away of previous ownership as much as the slow accretion of stories. What is being passed on to me with all these small Japanese objects?”

    “There are things in this world that the children hear, but whose sounds oscillate below an adult’s sense of pitch.”

    What did the children hear?

    #6269
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The Housley Letters 

    From Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters.

     

    William Housley (1781-1848) and Ellen Carrington were married on May 30, 1814 at St. Oswald’s church in Ashbourne. William died in 1848 at the age of 67 of “disease of lungs and general debility”. Ellen died in 1872.

    Marriage of William Housley and Ellen Carrington in Ashbourne in 1814:

    William and Ellen Marriage

     

    Parish records show three children for William and his first wife, Mary, Ellens’ sister, who were married December 29, 1806: Mary Ann, christened in 1808 and mentioned frequently in the letters; Elizabeth, christened in 1810, but never mentioned in any letters; and William, born in 1812, probably referred to as Will in the letters. Mary died in 1813.

    William and Ellen had ten children: John, Samuel, Edward, Anne, Charles, George, Joseph, Robert, Emma, and Joseph. The first Joseph died at the age of four, and the last son was also named Joseph. Anne never married, Charles emigrated to Australia in 1851, and George to USA, also in 1851. The letters are to George, from his sisters and brothers in England.

    The following are excerpts of those letters, including excerpts of Barbara Housley’s “Narrative on Historic Letters”. They are grouped according to who they refer to, rather than chronological order.

     

    ELLEN HOUSLEY 1795-1872

    Joseph wrote that when Emma was married, Ellen “broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby didn’t agree with her so she left again leaving her things behind and came to live with John in the new house where she died.” Ellen was listed with John’s household in the 1871 census.
    In May 1872, the Ilkeston Pioneer carried this notice: “Mr. Hopkins will sell by auction on Saturday next the eleventh of May 1872 the whole of the useful furniture, sewing machine, etc. nearly new on the premises of the late Mrs. Housley at Smalley near Heanor in the county of Derby. Sale at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

    Ellen’s family was evidently rather prominant in Smalley. Two Carringtons (John and William) served on the Parish Council in 1794. Parish records are full of Carrington marriages and christenings; census records confirm many of the family groupings.

    In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “Mother looks as well as ever and was told by a lady the other day that she looked handsome.” Later she wrote: “Mother is as stout as ever although she sometimes complains of not being able to do as she used to.”

     

    Mary’s children:

    MARY ANN HOUSLEY  1808-1878

    There were hard feelings between Mary Ann and Ellen and her children. Anne wrote: “If you remember we were not very friendly when you left. They never came and nothing was too bad for Mary Ann to say of Mother and me, but when Robert died Mother sent for her to the funeral but she did not think well to come so we took no more notice. She would not allow her children to come either.”

    Mary Ann was unlucky in love! In Anne’s second letter she wrote: “William Carrington is paying Mary Ann great attention. He is living in London but they write to each other….We expect it will be a match.” Apparantly the courtship was stormy for in 1855, Emma wrote: “Mary Ann’s wedding with William Carrington has dropped through after she had prepared everything, dresses and all for the occassion.” Then in 1856, Emma wrote: “William Carrington and Mary Ann are separated. They wore him out with their nonsense.” Whether they ever married is unclear. Joseph wrote in 1872: “Mary Ann was married but her husband has left her. She is in very poor health. She has one daughter and they are living with their mother at Smalley.”

    Regarding William Carrington, Emma supplied this bit of news: “His sister, Mrs. Lily, has eloped with a married man. Is she not a nice person!”

     

    WILLIAM HOUSLEY JR. 1812-1890

    According to a letter from Anne, Will’s two sons and daughter were sent to learn dancing so they would be “fit for any society.” Will’s wife was Dorothy Palfry. They were married in Denby on October 20, 1836 when Will was 24. According to the 1851 census, Will and Dorothy had three sons: Alfred 14, Edwin 12, and William 10. All three boys were born in Denby.

    In his letter of May 30, 1872, after just bemoaning that all of his brothers and sisters are gone except Sam and John, Joseph added: “Will is living still.” In another 1872 letter Joseph wrote, “Will is living at Heanor yet and carrying on his cattle dealing.” The 1871 census listed Will, 59, and his son William, 30, of Lascoe Road, Heanor, as cattle dealers.

     

    Ellen’s children:

    JOHN HOUSLEY  1815-1893

    John married Sarah Baggally in Morely in 1838. They had at least six children. Elizabeth (born 2 May 1838) was “out service” in 1854. In her “third year out,Elizabeth was described by Anne as “a very nice steady girl but quite a woman in appearance.” One of her positions was with a Mrs. Frearson in Heanor. Emma wrote in 1856: Elizabeth is still at Mrs. Frearson. She is such a fine stout girl you would not know her.” Joseph wrote in 1872 that Elizabeth was in service with Mrs. Eliza Sitwell at Derby. (About 1850, Miss Eliza Wilmot-Sitwell provided for a small porch with a handsome Norman doorway at the west end of the St. John the Baptist parish church in Smalley.)

    According to Elizabeth’s birth certificate and the 1841 census, John was a butcher. By 1851, the household included a nurse and a servant, and John was listed as a “victular.” Anne wrote in February 1854, John has left the Public House a year and a half ago. He is living where Plumbs (Ann Plumb witnessed William’s death certificate with her mark) did and Thomas Allen has the land. He has been working at James Eley’s all winter.” In 1861, Ellen lived with John and Sarah and the three boys.

    John sold his share in the inheritance from their mother and disappeared after her death. (He died in Doncaster, Yorkshire, in 1893.) At that time Charles, the youngest would have been 21. Indeed, Joseph wrote in July 1872: John’s children are all grown up”.

    In May 1872, Joseph wrote: “For what do you think, John has sold his share and he has acted very bad since his wife died and at the same time he sold all his furniture. You may guess I have never seen him but once since poor mother’s funeral and he is gone now no one knows where.”

    In February 1874 Joseph wrote: “You want to know what made John go away. Well, I will give you one reason. I think I told you that when his wife died he persuaded me to leave Derby and come to live with him. Well so we did and dear Harriet to keep his house. Well he insulted my wife and offered things to her that was not proper and my dear wife had the power to resist his unmanly conduct. I did not think he could of served me such a dirty trick so that is one thing dear brother. He could not look me in the face when we met. Then after we left him he got a woman in the house and I suppose they lived as man and wife. She caught the small pox and died and there he was by himself like some wild man. Well dear brother I could not go to him again after he had served me and mine as he had and I believe he was greatly in debt too so that he sold his share out of the property and when he received the money at Belper he went away and has never been seen by any of us since but I have heard of him being at Sheffield enquiring for Sam Caldwell. You will remember him. He worked in the Nag’s Head yard but I have heard nothing no more of him.”

    A mention of a John Housley of Heanor in the Nottinghma Journal 1875.  I don’t know for sure if the John mentioned here is the brother John who Joseph describes above as behaving improperly to his wife. John Housley had a son Joseph, born in 1840, and John’s wife Sarah died in 1870.

    John Housley

     

    In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

     

    SAMUEL HOUSLEY 1816-

    Sam married Elizabeth Brookes of Sutton Coldfield, and they had three daughters: Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Catherine.  Elizabeth his wife died in 1849, a few months after Samuel’s father William died in 1848. The particular circumstances relating to these individuals have been discussed in previous chapters; the following are letter excerpts relating to them.

    Death of William Housley 15 Dec 1848, and Elizabeth Housley 5 April 1849, Smalley:

    Housley Deaths

     

    Joseph wrote in December 1872: “I saw one of Sam’s daughters, the youngest Kate, you would remember her a baby I dare say. She is very comfortably married.”

    In the same letter (December 15, 1872), Joseph wrote:  “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Brimingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

    (Sam, however, was still alive in 1871, living as a lodger at the George and Dragon Inn, Henley in Arden. And no trace of Sam has been found since. It would appear that Sam did not want to be found.)

     

    EDWARD HOUSLEY 1819-1843

    Edward died before George left for USA in 1851, and as such there is no mention of him in the letters.

     

    ANNE HOUSLEY 1821-1856

    Anne wrote two letters to her brother George between February 1854 and her death in 1856. Apparently she suffered from a lung disease for she wrote: “I can say you will be surprised I am still living and better but still cough and spit a deal. Can do nothing but sit and sew.” According to the 1851 census, Anne, then 29, was a seamstress. Their friend, Mrs. Davy, wrote in March 1856: “This I send in a box to my Brother….The pincushion cover and pen wiper are Anne’s work–are for thy wife. She would have made it up had she been able.” Anne was not living at home at the time of the 1841 census. She would have been 19 or 20 and perhaps was “out service.”

    In her second letter Anne wrote: “It is a great trouble now for me to write…as the body weakens so does the mind often. I have been very weak all summer. That I continue is a wonder to all and to spit so much although much better than when you left home.” She also wrote: “You know I had a desire for America years ago. Were I in health and strength, it would be the land of my adoption.”

    In November 1855, Emma wrote, “Anne has been very ill all summer and has not been able to write or do anything.” Their neighbor Mrs. Davy wrote on March 21, 1856: “I fear Anne will not be long without a change.” In a black-edged letter the following June, Emma wrote: “I need not tell you how happy she was and how calmly and peacefully she died. She only kept in bed two days.”

    Certainly Anne was a woman of deep faith and strong religious convictions. When she wrote that they were hoping to hear of Charles’ success on the gold fields she added: “But I would rather hear of him having sought and found the Pearl of great price than all the gold Australia can produce, (For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?).” Then she asked George: “I should like to learn how it was you were first led to seek pardon and a savior. I do feel truly rejoiced to hear you have been led to seek and find this Pearl through the workings of the Holy Spirit and I do pray that He who has begun this good work in each of us may fulfill it and carry it on even unto the end and I can never doubt the willingness of Jesus who laid down his life for us. He who said whoever that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”

    Anne’s will was probated October 14, 1856. Mr. William Davy of Kidsley Park appeared for the family. Her estate was valued at under £20. Emma was to receive fancy needlework, a four post bedstead, feather bed and bedding, a mahogany chest of drawers, plates, linen and china. Emma was also to receive Anne’s writing desk. There was a condition that Ellen would have use of these items until her death.

    The money that Anne was to receive from her grandfather, William Carrington, and her father, William Housley was to be distributed one third to Joseph, one third to Emma, and one third to be divided between her four neices: John’s daughter Elizabeth, 18, and Sam’s daughters Elizabeth, 10, Mary Ann, 9 and Catharine, age 7 to be paid by the trustees as they think “most useful and proper.” Emma Lyon and Elizabeth Davy were the witnesses.

    The Carrington Farm:

    Carringtons Farm

     

    CHARLES HOUSLEY 1823-1855

    Charles went to Australia in 1851, and was last heard from in January 1853. According to the solicitor, who wrote to George on June 3, 1874, Charles had received advances on the settlement of their parent’s estate. “Your promissory note with the two signed by your brother Charles for 20 pounds he received from his father and 20 pounds he received from his mother are now in the possession of the court.”

    Charles and George were probably quite close friends. Anne wrote in 1854: “Charles inquired very particularly in both his letters after you.”

    According to Anne, Charles and a friend married two sisters. He and his father-in-law had a farm where they had 130 cows and 60 pigs. Whatever the trade he learned in England, he never worked at it once he reached Australia. While it does not seem that Charles went to Australia because gold had been discovered there, he was soon caught up in “gold fever”. Anne wrote: “I dare say you have heard of the immense gold fields of Australia discovered about the time he went. Thousands have since then emigrated to Australia, both high and low. Such accounts we heard in the papers of people amassing fortunes we could not believe. I asked him when I wrote if it was true. He said this was no exaggeration for people were making their fortune daily and he intended going to the diggings in six weeks for he could stay away no longer so that we are hoping to hear of his success if he is alive.”

    In March 1856, Mrs. Davy wrote: “I am sorry to tell thee they have had a letter from Charles’s wife giving account of Charles’s death of 6 months consumption at the Victoria diggings. He has left 2 children a boy and a girl William and Ellen.” In June of the same year in a black edged letter, Emma wrote: “I think Mrs. Davy mentioned Charles’s death in her note. His wife wrote to us. They have two children Helen and William. Poor dear little things. How much I should like to see them all. She writes very affectionately.”

    In December 1872, Joseph wrote: “I’m told that Charles two daughters has wrote to Smalley post office making inquiries about his share….” In January 1876, the solicitor wrote: “Charles Housley’s children have claimed their father’s share.”

     

    GEORGE HOUSLEY 1824-1877

    George emigrated to the United states in 1851, arriving in July. The solicitor Abraham John Flint referred in a letter to a 15-pound advance which was made to George on June 9, 1851. This certainly was connected to his journey. George settled along the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The letters from the solicitor were addressed to: Lahaska Post Office, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

    George married Sarah Ann Hill on May 6, 1854 in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In her first letter (February 1854), Anne wrote: “We want to know who and what is this Miss Hill you name in your letter. What age is she? Send us all the particulars but I would advise you not to get married until you have sufficient to make a comfortable home.”

    Upon learning of George’s marriage, Anne wrote: “I hope dear brother you may be happy with your wife….I hope you will be as a son to her parents. Mother unites with me in kind love to you both and to your father and mother with best wishes for your health and happiness.” In 1872 (December) Joseph wrote: “I am sorry to hear that sister’s father is so ill. It is what we must all come to some time and hope we shall meet where there is no more trouble.”

    Emma wrote in 1855, “We write in love to your wife and yourself and you must write soon and tell us whether there is a little nephew or niece and what you call them.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “We want to see dear Sarah Ann and the dear little boy. We were much pleased with the “bit of news” you sent.” The bit of news was the birth of John Eley Housley, January 11, 1855. Emma concluded her letter “Give our very kindest love to dear sister and dearest Johnnie.”

    In September 1872, Joseph wrote, “I was very sorry to hear that John your oldest had met with such a sad accident but I hope he is got alright again by this time.” In the same letter, Joseph asked: “Now I want to know what sort of a town you are living in or village. How far is it from New York? Now send me all particulars if you please.”

    In March 1873 Harriet asked Sarah Ann: “And will you please send me all the news at the place and what it is like for it seems to me that it is a wild place but you must tell me what it is like….”.  The question of whether she was referring to Bucks County, Pennsylvania or some other place is raised in Joseph’s letter of the same week.
    On March 17, 1873, Joseph wrote: “I was surprised to hear that you had gone so far away west. Now dear brother what ever are you doing there so far away from home and family–looking out for something better I suppose.”

    The solicitor wrote on May 23, 1874: “Lately I have not written because I was not certain of your address and because I doubted I had much interesting news to tell you.” Later, Joseph wrote concerning the problems settling the estate, “You see dear brother there is only me here on our side and I cannot do much. I wish you were here to help me a bit and if you think of going for another summer trip this turn you might as well run over here.”

    Apparently, George had indicated he might return to England for a visit in 1856. Emma wrote concerning the portrait of their mother which had been sent to George: “I hope you like mother’s portrait. I did not see it but I suppose it was not quite perfect about the eyes….Joseph and I intend having ours taken for you when you come over….Do come over before very long.”

    In March 1873, Joseph wrote: “You ask me what I think of you coming to England. I think as you have given the trustee power to sign for you I think you could do no good but I should like to see you once again for all that. I can’t say whether there would be anything amiss if you did come as you say it would be throwing good money after bad.”

    On June 10, 1875, the solicitor wrote: “I have been expecting to hear from you for some time past. Please let me hear what you are doing and where you are living and how I must send you your money.” George’s big news at that time was that on May 3, 1875, he had become a naturalized citizen “renouncing and abjuring all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state and sovereignity whatsoever, and particularly to Victoria Queen of Great Britain of whom he was before a subject.”

     

    ROBERT HOUSLEY 1832-1851

    In 1854, Anne wrote: “Poor Robert. He died in August after you left he broke a blood vessel in the lung.”
    From Joseph’s first letter we learn that Robert was 19 when he died: “Dear brother there have been a great many changes in the family since you left us. All is gone except myself and John and Sam–we have heard nothing of him since he left. Robert died first when he was 19 years of age. Then Anne and Charles too died in Australia and then a number of years elapsed before anyone else. Then John lost his wife, then Emma, and last poor dear mother died last January on the 11th.”

    Anne described Robert’s death in this way: “He had thrown up blood many times before in the spring but the last attack weakened him that he only lived a fortnight after. He died at Derby. Mother was with him. Although he suffered much he never uttered a murmur or regret and always a smile on his face for everyone that saw him. He will be regretted by all that knew him”.

    Robert died a resident of St. Peter’s Parish, Derby, but was buried in Smalley on August 16, 1851.
    Apparently Robert was apprenticed to be a joiner for, according to Anne, Joseph took his place: “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after and is there still.”

    In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

     

    EMMA HOUSLEY 1836-1871

    Emma was not mentioned in Anne’s first letter. In the second, Anne wrote that Emma was living at Spondon with two ladies in her “third situation,” and added, “She is grown a bouncing woman.” Anne described her sister well. Emma wrote in her first letter (November 12, 1855): “I must tell you that I am just 21 and we had my pudding last Sunday. I wish I could send you a piece.”

    From Emma’s letters we learn that she was living in Derby from May until November 1855 with Mr. Haywood, an iron merchant. She explained, “He has failed and I have been obliged to leave,” adding, “I expect going to a new situation very soon. It is at Belper.” In 1851 records, William Haywood, age 22, was listed as an iron foundry worker. In the 1857 Derby Directory, James and George were listed as iron and brass founders and ironmongers with an address at 9 Market Place, Derby.

    In June 1856, Emma wrote from “The Cedars, Ashbourne Road” where she was working for Mr. Handysides.
    While she was working for Mr. Handysides, Emma wrote: “Mother is thinking of coming to live at Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I.”

    Friargate and Ashbourne Road were located in St. Werburgh’s Parish. (In fact, St. Werburgh’s vicarage was at 185 Surrey Street. This clue led to the discovery of the record of Emma’s marriage on May 6, 1858, to Edwin Welch Harvey, son of Samuel Harvey in St. Werburgh’s.)

    In 1872, Joseph wrote: “Our sister Emma, she died at Derby at her own home for she was married. She has left two young children behind. The husband was the son of the man that I went apprentice to and has caused a great deal of trouble to our family and I believe hastened poor Mother’s death….”.   Joseph added that he believed Emma’s “complaint” was consumption and that she was sick a good bit. Joseph wrote: “Mother was living with John when I came home (from Ascension Island around 1867? or to Smalley from Derby around 1870?) for when Emma was married she broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby did not agree with her so she had to leave it again but left all her things there.”

    Emma Housley and Edwin Welch Harvey wedding, 1858:

    Emma Housley wedding

     

    JOSEPH HOUSLEY 1838-1893

    We first hear of Joseph in a letter from Anne to George in 1854. “Joseph wanted to be a joiner. We thought we could do no better than let him take Robert’s place which he did the October after (probably 1851) and is there still. He is grown as tall as you I think quite a man.” Emma concurred in her first letter: “He is quite a man in his appearance and quite as tall as you.”

    From Emma we learn in 1855: “Joseph has left Mr. Harvey. He had not work to employ him. So mother thought he had better leave his indenture and be at liberty at once than wait for Harvey to be a bankrupt. He has got a very good place of work now and is very steady.” In June of 1856, Emma wrote “Joseph and I intend to have our portraits taken for you when you come over….Mother is thinking of coming to Derby. That will be nice for Joseph and I. Joseph is very hearty I am happy to say.”

    According to Joseph’s letters, he was married to Harriet Ballard. Joseph described their miraculous reunion in this way: “I must tell you that I have been abroad myself to the Island of Ascension. (Elsewhere he wrote that he was on the island when the American civil war broke out). I went as a Royal Marine and worked at my trade and saved a bit of money–enough to buy my discharge and enough to get married with but while I was out on the island who should I meet with there but my dear wife’s sister. (On two occasions Joseph and Harriet sent George the name and address of Harriet’s sister, Mrs. Brooks, in Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, but it is not clear whether this was the same sister.) She was lady’s maid to the captain’s wife. Though I had never seen her before we got to know each other somehow so from that me and my wife recommenced our correspondence and you may be sure I wanted to get home to her. But as soon as I did get home that is to England I was not long before I was married and I have not regretted yet for we are very comfortable as well as circumstances will allow for I am only a journeyman joiner.”

    Proudly, Joseph wrote: “My little family consists of three nice children–John, Joseph and Susy Annie.” On her birth certificate, Susy Ann’s birthdate is listed as 1871. Parish records list a Lucy Annie christened in 1873. The boys were born in Derby, John in 1868 and Joseph in 1869. In his second letter, Joseph repeated: “I have got three nice children, a good wife and I often think is more than I have deserved.” On August 6, 1873, Joseph and Harriet wrote: “We both thank you dear sister for the pieces of money you sent for the children. I don’t know as I have ever see any before.” Joseph ended another letter: “Now I must close with our kindest love to you all and kisses from the children.”

    In Harriet’s letter to Sarah Ann (March 19, 1873), she promised: “I will send you myself and as soon as the weather gets warm as I can take the children to Derby, I will have them taken and send them, but it is too cold yet for we have had a very cold winter and a great deal of rain.” At this time, the children were all under 6 and the baby was not yet two.

    In March 1873 Joseph wrote: “I have been working down at Heanor gate there is a joiner shop there where Kings used to live I have been working there this winter and part of last summer but the wages is very low but it is near home that is one comfort.” (Heanor Gate is about 1/4 mile from Kidsley Grange. There was a school and industrial park there in 1988.) At this time Joseph and his family were living in “the big house–in Old Betty Hanson’s house.” The address in the 1871 census was Smalley Lane.

    A glimpse into Joseph’s personality is revealed by this remark to George in an 1872 letter: “Many thanks for your portrait and will send ours when we can get them taken for I never had but one taken and that was in my old clothes and dear Harriet is not willing to part with that. I tell her she ought to be satisfied with the original.”

    On one occasion Joseph and Harriet both sent seeds. (Marks are still visible on the paper.) Joseph sent “the best cow cabbage seed in the country–Robinson Champion,” and Harriet sent red cabbage–Shaw’s Improved Red. Possibly cow cabbage was also known as ox cabbage: “I hope you will have some good cabbages for the Ox cabbage takes all the prizes here. I suppose you will be taking the prizes out there with them.” Joseph wrote that he would put the name of the seeds by each “but I should think that will not matter. You will tell the difference when they come up.”

    George apparently would have liked Joseph to come to him as early as 1854. Anne wrote: “As to his coming to you that must be left for the present.” In 1872, Joseph wrote: “I have been thinking of making a move from here for some time before I heard from you for it is living from hand to mouth and never certain of a job long either.” Joseph then made plans to come to the United States in the spring of 1873. “For I intend all being well leaving England in the spring. Many thanks for your kind offer but I hope we shall be able to get a comfortable place before we have been out long.” Joseph promised to bring some things George wanted and asked: “What sort of things would be the best to bring out there for I don’t want to bring a lot that is useless.” Joseph’s plans are confirmed in a letter from the solicitor May 23, 1874: “I trust you are prospering and in good health. Joseph seems desirous of coming out to you when this is settled.”

    George must have been reminiscing about gooseberries (Heanor has an annual gooseberry show–one was held July 28, 1872) and Joseph promised to bring cuttings when they came: “Dear Brother, I could not get the gooseberries for they was all gathered when I received your letter but we shall be able to get some seed out the first chance and I shall try to bring some cuttings out along.” In the same letter that he sent the cabbage seeds Joseph wrote: “I have got some gooseberries drying this year for you. They are very fine ones but I have only four as yet but I was promised some more when they were ripe.” In another letter Joseph sent gooseberry seeds and wrote their names: Victoria, Gharibaldi and Globe.

    In September 1872 Joseph wrote; “My wife is anxious to come. I hope it will suit her health for she is not over strong.” Elsewhere Joseph wrote that Harriet was “middling sometimes. She is subject to sick headaches. It knocks her up completely when they come on.” In December 1872 Joseph wrote, “Now dear brother about us coming to America you know we shall have to wait until this affair is settled and if it is not settled and thrown into Chancery I’m afraid we shall have to stay in England for I shall never be able to save money enough to bring me out and my family but I hope of better things.”

    On July 19, 1875 Abraham Flint (the solicitor) wrote: “Joseph Housley has removed from Smalley and is working on some new foundry buildings at Little Chester near Derby. He lives at a village called Little Eaton near Derby. If you address your letter to him as Joseph Housley, carpenter, Little Eaton near Derby that will no doubt find him.”

    George did not save any letters from Joseph after 1874, hopefully he did reach him at Little Eaton. Joseph and his family are not listed in either Little Eaton or Derby on the 1881 census.

    In his last letter (February 11, 1874), Joseph sounded very discouraged and wrote that Harriet’s parents were very poorly and both had been “in bed for a long time.” In addition, Harriet and the children had been ill.
    The move to Little Eaton may indicate that Joseph received his settlement because in August, 1873, he wrote: “I think this is bad news enough and bad luck too, but I have had little else since I came to live at Kiddsley cottages but perhaps it is all for the best if one could only think so. I have begun to think there will be no chance for us coming over to you for I am afraid there will not be so much left as will bring us out without it is settled very shortly but I don’t intend leaving this house until it is settled either one way or the other. “

    Joseph Housley and the Kiddsley cottages:

    Joseph Housley

    #6266
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    From Tanganyika with Love

    continued part 7

    With thanks to Mike Rushby.

    Oldeani Hospital. 19th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

    George arrived today to take us home to Mbulu but Sister Marianne will not allow
    me to travel for another week as I had a bit of a set back after baby’s birth. At first I was
    very fit and on the third day Sister stripped the bed and, dictionary in hand, started me
    off on ante natal exercises. “Now make a bridge Mrs Rushby. So. Up down, up down,’
    whilst I obediently hoisted myself aloft on heels and head. By the sixth day she
    considered it was time for me to be up and about but alas, I soon had to return to bed
    with a temperature and a haemorrhage. I got up and walked outside for the first time this
    morning.

    I have had lots of visitors because the local German settlers seem keen to see
    the first British baby born in the hospital. They have been most kind, sending flowers
    and little German cards of congratulations festooned with cherubs and rather sweet. Most
    of the women, besides being pleasant, are very smart indeed, shattering my illusion that
    German matrons are invariably fat and dowdy. They are all much concerned about the
    Czecko-Slovakian situation, especially Sister Marianne whose home is right on the
    border and has several relations who are Sudentan Germans. She is ant-Nazi and
    keeps on asking me whether I think England will declare war if Hitler invades Czecko-
    Slovakia, as though I had inside information.

    George tells me that he has had a grass ‘banda’ put up for us at Mbulu as we are
    both determined not to return to those prison-like quarters in the Fort. Sister Marianne is
    horrified at the idea of taking a new baby to live in a grass hut. She told George,
    “No,No,Mr Rushby. I find that is not to be allowed!” She is an excellent Sister but rather
    prim and George enjoys teasing her. This morning he asked with mock seriousness,
    “Sister, why has my wife not received her medal?” Sister fluttered her dictionary before
    asking. “What medal Mr Rushby”. “Why,” said George, “The medal that Hitler gives to
    women who have borne four children.” Sister started a long and involved explanation
    about the medal being only for German mothers whilst George looked at me and
    grinned.

    Later. Great Jubilation here. By the noise in Sister Marianne’s sitting room last night it
    sounded as though the whole German population had gathered to listen to the wireless
    news. I heard loud exclamations of joy and then my bedroom door burst open and
    several women rushed in. “Thank God “, they cried, “for Neville Chamberlain. Now there
    will be no war.” They pumped me by the hand as though I were personally responsible
    for the whole thing.

    George on the other hand is disgusted by Chamberlain’s lack of guts. Doesn’t
    know what England is coming to these days. I feel too content to concern myself with
    world affairs. I have a fine husband and four wonderful children and am happy, happy,
    happy.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu. 30th September 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Here we are, comfortably installed in our little green house made of poles and
    rushes from a nearby swamp. The house has of course, no doors or windows, but
    there are rush blinds which roll up in the day time. There are two rooms and a little porch
    and out at the back there is a small grass kitchen.

    Here we have the privacy which we prize so highly as we are screened on one
    side by a Forest Department plantation and on the other three sides there is nothing but
    the rolling countryside cropped bare by the far too large herds of cattle and goats of the
    Wambulu. I have a lovely lazy time. I still have Kesho-Kutwa and the cook we brought
    with us from the farm. They are both faithful and willing souls though not very good at
    their respective jobs. As one of these Mbeya boys goes on safari with George whose
    job takes him from home for three weeks out of four, I have taken on a local boy to cut
    firewood and heat my bath water and generally make himself useful. His name is Saa,
    which means ‘Clock’

    We had an uneventful but very dusty trip from Oldeani. Johnny Jo travelled in his
    pram in the back of the boxbody and got covered in dust but seems none the worst for
    it. As the baby now takes up much of my time and Kate was showing signs of
    boredom, I have engaged a little African girl to come and play with Kate every morning.
    She is the daughter of the head police Askari and a very attractive and dignified little
    person she is. Her name is Kajyah. She is scrupulously clean, as all Mohammedan
    Africans seem to be. Alas, Kajyah, though beautiful, is a bore. She simply does not
    know how to play, so they just wander around hand in hand.

    There are only two drawbacks to this little house. Mbulu is a very windy spot so
    our little reed house is very draughty. I have made a little tent of sheets in one corner of
    the ‘bedroom’ into which I can retire with Johnny when I wish to bathe or sponge him.
    The other drawback is that many insects are attracted at night by the lamp and make it
    almost impossible to read or sew and they have a revolting habit of falling into the soup.
    There are no dangerous wild animals in this area so I am not at all nervous in this
    flimsy little house when George is on safari. Most nights hyaenas come around looking
    for scraps but our dogs, Fanny and Paddy, soon see them off.

    Eleanor.

    Mbulu. 25th October 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Great news! a vacancy has occurred in the Game Department. George is to
    transfer to it next month. There will be an increase in salary and a brighter prospect for
    the future. It will mean a change of scene and I shall be glad of that. We like Mbulu and
    the people here but the rains have started and our little reed hut is anything but water
    tight.

    Before the rain came we had very unpleasant dust storms. I think I told you that
    this is a treeless area and the grass which normally covers the veldt has been cropped
    to the roots by the hungry native cattle and goats. When the wind blows the dust
    collects in tall black columns which sweep across the country in a most spectacular
    fashion. One such dust devil struck our hut one day whilst we were at lunch. George
    swept Kate up in a second and held her face against his chest whilst I rushed to Johnny
    Jo who was asleep in his pram, and stooped over the pram to protect him. The hut
    groaned and creaked and clouds of dust blew in through the windows and walls covering
    our persons, food, and belongings in a black pall. The dogs food bowls and an empty
    petrol tin outside the hut were whirled up and away. It was all over in a moment but you
    should have seen what a family of sweeps we looked. George looked at our blackened
    Johnny and mimicked in Sister Marianne’s primmest tones, “I find that this is not to be
    allowed.”

    The first rain storm caught me unprepared when George was away on safari. It
    was a terrific thunderstorm. The quite violent thunder and lightening were followed by a
    real tropical downpour. As the hut is on a slight slope, the storm water poured through
    the hut like a river, covering the entire floor, and the roof leaked like a lawn sprinkler.
    Johnny Jo was snug enough in the pram with the hood raised, but Kate and I had a
    damp miserable night. Next morning I had deep drains dug around the hut and when
    George returned from safari he managed to borrow an enormous tarpaulin which is now
    lashed down over the roof.

    It did not rain during the next few days George was home but the very next night
    we were in trouble again. I was awakened by screams from Kate and hurriedly turned up
    the lamp to see that we were in the midst of an invasion of siafu ants. Kate’s bed was
    covered in them. Others appeared to be raining down from the thatch. I quickly stripped
    Kate and carried her across to my bed, whilst I rushed to the pram to see whether
    Johnny Jo was all right. He was fast asleep, bless him, and slept on through all the
    commotion, whilst I struggled to pick all the ants out of Kate’s hair, stopping now and
    again to attend to my own discomfort. These ants have a painful bite and seem to
    choose all the most tender spots. Kate fell asleep eventually but I sat up for the rest of
    the night to make sure that the siafu kept clear of the children. Next morning the servants
    dispersed them by laying hot ash.

    In spite of the dampness of the hut both children are blooming. Kate has rosy
    cheeks and Johnny Jo now has a fuzz of fair hair and has lost his ‘old man’ look. He
    reminds me of Ann at his age.

    Eleanor.

    Iringa. 30th November 1938

    Dearest Family,

    Here we are back in the Southern Highlands and installed on the second floor of
    another German Fort. This one has been modernised however and though not so
    romantic as the Mbulu Fort from the outside, it is much more comfortable.We are all well
    and I am really proud of our two safari babies who stood up splendidly to a most trying
    journey North from Mbulu to Arusha and then South down the Great North Road to
    Iringa where we expect to stay for a month.

    At Arusha George reported to the headquarters of the Game Department and
    was instructed to come on down here on Rinderpest Control. There is a great flap on in
    case the rinderpest spread to Northern Rhodesia and possibly onwards to Southern
    Rhodesia and South Africa. Extra veterinary officers have been sent to this area to
    inoculate all the cattle against the disease whilst George and his African game Scouts will
    comb the bush looking for and destroying diseased game. If the rinderpest spreads,
    George says it may be necessary to shoot out all the game in a wide belt along the
    border between the Southern Highlands of Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia, to
    prevent the disease spreading South. The very idea of all this destruction sickens us
    both.

    George left on a foot safari the day after our arrival and I expect I shall be lucky if I
    see him occasionally at weekends until this job is over. When rinderpest is under control
    George is to be stationed at a place called Nzassa in the Eastern Province about 18
    miles from Dar es Salaam. George’s orderly, who is a tall, cheerful Game Scout called
    Juma, tells me that he has been stationed at Nzassa and it is a frightful place! However I
    refuse to be depressed. I now have the cheering prospect of leave to England in thirty
    months time when we will be able to fetch Ann and George and be a proper family
    again. Both Ann and George look happy in the snapshots which mother-in-law sends
    frequently. Ann is doing very well at school and loves it.

    To get back to our journey from Mbulu. It really was quite an experience. It
    poured with rain most of the way and the road was very slippery and treacherous the
    120 miles between Mbulu and Arusha. This is a little used earth road and the drains are
    so blocked with silt as to be practically non existent. As usual we started our move with
    the V8 loaded to capacity. I held Johnny on my knee and Kate squeezed in between
    George and me. All our goods and chattels were in wooden boxes stowed in the back
    and the two houseboys and the two dogs had to adjust themselves to the space that
    remained. We soon ran into trouble and it took us all day to travel 47 miles. We stuck
    several times in deep mud and had some most nasty skids. I simply clutched Kate in
    one hand and Johnny Jo in the other and put my trust in George who never, under any
    circumstances, loses his head. Poor Johnny only got his meals when circumstances
    permitted. Unfortunately I had put him on a bottle only a few days before we left Mbulu
    and, as I was unable to buy either a primus stove or Thermos flask there we had to
    make a fire and boil water for each meal. Twice George sat out in the drizzle with a rain
    coat rapped over his head to protect a miserable little fire of wet sticks drenched with
    paraffin. Whilst we waited for the water to boil I pacified John by letting him suck a cube
    of Tate and Lyles sugar held between my rather grubby fingers. Not at all according to
    the book.

    That night George, the children and I slept in the car having dumped our boxes
    and the two servants in a deserted native hut. The rain poured down relentlessly all night
    and by morning the road was more of a morass than ever. We swerved and skidded
    alarmingly till eventually one of the wheel chains broke and had to be tied together with
    string which constantly needed replacing. George was so patient though he was wet
    and muddy and tired and both children were very good. Shortly before reaching the Great North Road we came upon Jack Gowan, the Stock Inspector from Mbulu. His car
    was bogged down to its axles in black mud. He refused George’s offer of help saying
    that he had sent his messenger to a nearby village for help.

    I hoped that conditions would be better on the Great North Road but how over
    optimistic I was. For miles the road runs through a belt of ‘black cotton soil’. which was
    churned up into the consistency of chocolate blancmange by the heavy lorry traffic which
    runs between Dodoma and Arusha. Soon the car was skidding more fantastically than
    ever. Once it skidded around in a complete semi circle so George decided that it would
    be safer for us all to walk whilst he negotiated the very bad patches. You should have
    seen me plodding along in the mud and drizzle with the baby in one arm and Kate
    clinging to the other. I was terrified of slipping with Johnny. Each time George reached
    firm ground he would return on foot to carry Kate and in this way we covered many bad
    patches.We were more fortunate than many other travellers. We passed several lorries
    ditched on the side of the road and one car load of German men, all elegantly dressed in
    lounge suits. One was busy with his camera so will have a record of their plight to laugh
    over in the years to come. We spent another night camping on the road and next day
    set out on the last lap of the journey. That also was tiresome but much better than the
    previous day and we made the haven of the Arusha Hotel before dark. What a picture
    we made as we walked through the hall in our mud splattered clothes! Even Johnny was
    well splashed with mud but no harm was done and both he and Kate are blooming.
    We rested for two days at Arusha and then came South to Iringa. Luckily the sun
    came out and though for the first day the road was muddy it was no longer so slippery
    and the second day found us driving through parched country and along badly
    corrugated roads. The further South we came, the warmer the sun which at times blazed
    through the windscreen and made us all uncomfortably hot. I have described the country
    between Arusha and Dodoma before so I shan’t do it again. We reached Iringa without
    mishap and after a good nights rest all felt full of beans.

    Eleanor.

    Mchewe Estate, Mbeya. 7th January 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    You will be surprised to note that we are back on the farm! At least the children
    and I are here. George is away near the Rhodesian border somewhere, still on
    Rinderpest control.

    I had a pleasant time at Iringa, lots of invitations to morning tea and Kate had a
    wonderful time enjoying the novelty of playing with children of her own age. She is not
    shy but nevertheless likes me to be within call if not within sight. It was all very suburban
    but pleasant enough. A few days before Christmas George turned up at Iringa and
    suggested that, as he would be working in the Mbeya area, it might be a good idea for
    the children and me to move to the farm. I agreed enthusiastically, completely forgetting
    that after my previous trouble with the leopard I had vowed to myself that I would never
    again live alone on the farm.

    Alas no sooner had we arrived when Thomas, our farm headman, brought the
    news that there were now two leopards terrorising the neighbourhood, and taking dogs,
    goats and sheep and chickens. Traps and poisoned bait had been tried in vain and he
    was sure that the female was the same leopard which had besieged our home before.
    Other leopards said Thomas, came by stealth but this one advertised her whereabouts
    in the most brazen manner.

    George stayed with us on the farm over Christmas and all was quiet at night so I
    cheered up and took the children for walks along the overgrown farm paths. However on
    New Years Eve that darned leopard advertised her presence again with the most blood
    chilling grunts and snarls. Horrible! Fanny and Paddy barked and growled and woke up
    both children. Kate wept and kept saying, “Send it away mummy. I don’t like it.” Johnny
    Jo howled in sympathy. What a picnic. So now the whole performance of bodyguards
    has started again and ‘till George returns we confine our exercise to the garden.
    Our little house is still cosy and sweet but the coffee plantation looks very
    neglected. I wish to goodness we could sell it.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 14th February 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    After three months of moving around with two small children it is heavenly to be
    settled in our own home, even though Nzassa is an isolated spot and has the reputation
    of being unhealthy.

    We travelled by car from Mbeya to Dodoma by now a very familiar stretch of
    country, but from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam by train which made a nice change. We
    spent two nights and a day in the Splendid Hotel in Dar es Salaam, George had some
    official visits to make and I did some shopping and we took the children to the beach.
    The bay is so sheltered that the sea is as calm as a pond and the water warm. It is
    wonderful to see the sea once more and to hear tugs hooting and to watch the Arab
    dhows putting out to sea with their oddly shaped sails billowing. I do love the bush, but
    I love the sea best of all, as you know.

    We made an early start for Nzassa on the 3rd. For about four miles we bowled
    along a good road. This brought us to a place called Temeke where George called on
    the District Officer. His house appears to be the only European type house there. The
    road between Temeke and the turn off to Nzassa is quite good, but the six mile stretch
    from the turn off to Nzassa is a very neglected bush road. There is nothing to be seen
    but the impenetrable bush on both sides with here and there a patch of swampy
    ground where rice is planted in the wet season.

    After about six miles of bumpy road we reached Nzassa which is nothing more
    than a sandy clearing in the bush. Our house however is a fine one. It was originally built
    for the District Officer and there is a small court house which is now George’s office. The
    District Officer died of blackwater fever so Nzassa was abandoned as an administrative
    station being considered too unhealthy for Administrative Officers but suitable as
    Headquarters for a Game Ranger. Later a bachelor Game Ranger was stationed here
    but his health also broke down and he has been invalided to England. So now the
    healthy Rushbys are here and we don’t mean to let the place get us down. So don’t
    worry.

    The house consists of three very large and airy rooms with their doors opening
    on to a wide front verandah which we shall use as a living room. There is also a wide
    back verandah with a store room at one end and a bathroom at the other. Both
    verandahs and the end windows of the house are screened my mosquito gauze wire
    and further protected by a trellis work of heavy expanded metal. Hasmani, the Game
    Scout, who has been acting as caretaker, tells me that the expanded metal is very
    necessary because lions often come out of the bush at night and roam around the
    house. Such a comforting thought!

    On our very first evening we discovered how necessary the mosquito gauze is.
    After sunset the air outside is thick with mosquitos from the swamps. About an acre of
    land has been cleared around the house. This is a sandy waste because there is no
    water laid on here and absolutely nothing grows here except a rather revolting milky
    desert bush called ‘Manyara’, and a few acacia trees. A little way from the house there is
    a patch of citrus trees, grape fruit, I think, but whether they ever bear fruit I don’t know.
    The clearing is bordered on three sides by dense dusty thorn bush which is
    ‘lousy with buffalo’ according to George. The open side is the road which leads down to
    George’s office and the huts for the Game Scouts. Only Hasmani and George’s orderly
    Juma and their wives and families live there, and the other huts provide shelter for the
    Game Scouts from the bush who come to Nzassa to collect their pay and for a short
    rest. I can see that my daily walk will always be the same, down the road to the huts and
    back! However I don’t mind because it is far too hot to take much exercise.

    The climate here is really tropical and worse than on the coast because the thick
    bush cuts us off from any sea breeze. George says it will be cooler when the rains start
    but just now we literally drip all day. Kate wears nothing but a cotton sun suit, and Johnny
    a napkin only, but still their little bodies are always moist. I have shorn off all Kate’s lovely
    shoulder length curls and got George to cut my hair very short too.

    We simply must buy a refrigerator. The butter, and even the cheese we bought
    in Dar. simply melted into pools of oil overnight, and all our meat went bad, so we are
    living out of tins. However once we get organised I shall be quite happy here. I like this
    spacious house and I have good servants. The cook, Hamisi Issa, is a Swahili from Lindi
    whom we engaged in Dar es Salaam. He is a very dignified person, and like most
    devout Mohammedan Cooks, keeps both his person and the kitchen spotless. I
    engaged the house boy here. He is rather a timid little body but is very willing and quite
    capable. He has an excessively plain but cheerful wife whom I have taken on as ayah. I
    do not really need help with the children but feel I must have a woman around just in
    case I go down with malaria when George is away on safari.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 28th February 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    George’s birthday and we had a special tea party this afternoon which the
    children much enjoyed. We have our frig now so I am able to make jellies and provide
    them with really cool drinks.

    Our very first visitor left this morning after spending only one night here. He is Mr
    Ionides, the Game Ranger from the Southern Province. He acted as stand in here for a
    short while after George’s predecessor left for England on sick leave, and where he has
    since died. Mr Ionides returned here to hand over the range and office formally to
    George. He seems a strange man and is from all accounts a bit of a hermit. He was at
    one time an Officer in the Regular Army but does not look like a soldier, he wears the
    most extraordinary clothes but nevertheless contrives to look top-drawer. He was
    educated at Rugby and Sandhurst and is, I should say, well read. Ionides told us that he
    hated Nzassa, particularly the house which he thinks sinister and says he always slept
    down in the office.

    The house, or at least one bedroom, seems to have the same effect on Kate.
    She has been very nervous at night ever since we arrived. At first the children occupied
    the bedroom which is now George’s. One night, soon after our arrival, Kate woke up
    screaming to say that ‘something’ had looked at her through the mosquito net. She was
    in such a hysterical state that inspite of the heat and discomfort I was obliged to crawl into
    her little bed with her and remained there for the rest of the night.

    Next night I left a night lamp burning but even so I had to sit by her bed until she
    dropped off to sleep. Again I was awakened by ear-splitting screams and this time
    found Kate standing rigid on her bed. I lifted her out and carried her to a chair meaning to
    comfort her but she screeched louder than ever, “Look Mummy it’s under the bed. It’s
    looking at us.” In vain I pointed out that there was nothing at all there. By this time
    George had joined us and he carried Kate off to his bed in the other room whilst I got into
    Kate’s bed thinking she might have been frightened by a rat which might also disturb
    Johnny.

    Next morning our houseboy remarked that he had heard Kate screaming in the
    night from his room behind the kitchen. I explained what had happened and he must
    have told the old Scout Hasmani who waylaid me that afternoon and informed me quite
    seriously that that particular room was haunted by a ‘sheitani’ (devil) who hates children.
    He told me that whilst he was acting as caretaker before our arrival he one night had his
    wife and small daughter in the room to keep him company. He said that his small
    daughter woke up and screamed exactly as Kate had done! Silly coincidence I
    suppose, but such strange things happen in Africa that I decided to move the children
    into our room and George sleeps in solitary state in the haunted room! Kate now sleeps
    peacefully once she goes to sleep but I have to stay with her until she does.

    I like this house and it does not seem at all sinister to me. As I mentioned before,
    the rooms are high ceilinged and airy, and have cool cement floors. We have made one
    end of the enclosed verandah into the living room and the other end is the playroom for
    the children. The space in between is a sort of no-mans land taken over by the dogs as
    their special territory.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 25th March 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    George is on safari down in the Rufigi River area. He is away for about three
    weeks in the month on this job. I do hate to see him go and just manage to tick over until
    he comes back. But what fun and excitement when he does come home.
    Usually he returns after dark by which time the children are in bed and I have
    settled down on the verandah with a book. The first warning is usually given by the
    dogs, Fanny and her son Paddy. They stir, sit up, look at each other and then go and sit
    side by side by the door with their noses practically pressed to the mosquito gauze and
    ears pricked. Soon I can hear the hum of the car, and so can Hasmani, the old Game
    Scout who sleeps on the back verandah with rifle and ammunition by his side when
    George is away. When he hears the car he turns up his lamp and hurries out to rouse
    Juma, the houseboy. Juma pokes up the fire and prepares tea which George always
    drinks whist a hot meal is being prepared. In the meantime I hurriedly comb my hair and
    powder my nose so that when the car stops I am ready to rush out and welcome
    George home. The boy and Hasmani and the garden boy appear to help with the
    luggage and to greet George and the cook, who always accompanies George on
    Safari. The home coming is always a lively time with much shouting of greetings.
    ‘Jambo’, and ‘Habari ya safari’, whilst the dogs, beside themselves with excitement,
    rush around like lunatics.

    As though his return were not happiness enough, George usually collects the
    mail on his way home so there is news of Ann and young George and letters from you
    and bundles of newspapers and magazines. On the day following his return home,
    George has to deal with official mail in the office but if the following day is a weekday we
    all, the house servants as well as ourselves, pile into the boxbody and go to Dar es
    Salaam. To us this means a mornings shopping followed by an afternoon on the beach.
    It is a bit cooler now that the rains are on but still very humid. Kate keeps chubby
    and rosy in spite of the climate but Johnny is too pale though sturdy enough. He is such
    a good baby which is just as well because Kate is a very demanding little girl though
    sunny tempered and sweet. I appreciate her company very much when George is
    away because we are so far off the beaten track that no one ever calls.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 28th April 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    You all seem to wonder how I can stand the loneliness and monotony of living at
    Nzassa when George is on safari, but really and truly I do not mind. Hamisi the cook
    always goes on safari with George and then the houseboy Juma takes over the cooking
    and I do the lighter housework. the children are great company during the day, and when
    they are settled for the night I sit on the verandah and read or write letters or I just dream.
    The verandah is entirely enclosed with both wire mosquito gauze and a trellis
    work of heavy expanded metal, so I am safe from all intruders be they human, animal, or
    insect. Outside the air is alive with mosquitos and the cicadas keep up their monotonous
    singing all night long. My only companions on the verandah are the pale ghecco lizards
    on the wall and the two dogs. Fanny the white bull terrier, lies always near my feet
    dozing happily, but her son Paddy, who is half Airedale has a less phlegmatic
    disposition. He sits alert and on guard by the metal trellis work door. Often a lion grunts
    from the surrounding bush and then his hackles rise and he stands up stiffly with his nose
    pressed to the door. Old Hasmani from his bedroll on the back verandah, gives a little
    cough just to show he is awake. Sometimes the lions are very close and then I hear the
    click of a rifle bolt as Hasmani loads his rifle – but this is usually much later at night when
    the lights are out. One morning I saw large pug marks between the wall of my bedroom
    and the garage but I do not fear lions like I did that beastly leopard on the farm.
    A great deal of witchcraft is still practiced in the bush villages in the
    neighbourhood. I must tell you about old Hasmani’s baby in connection with this. Last
    week Hasmani came to me in great distress to say that his baby was ‘Ngongwa sana ‘
    (very ill) and he thought it would die. I hurried down to the Game Scouts quarters to see
    whether I could do anything for the child and found the mother squatting in the sun
    outside her hut with the baby on her lap. The mother was a young woman but not an
    attractive one. She appeared sullen and indifferent compared with old Hasmani who
    was very distressed. The child was very feverish and breathing with difficulty and
    seemed to me to be suffering from bronchitis if not pneumonia. I rubbed his back and
    chest with camphorated oil and dosed him with aspirin and liquid quinine. I repeated the
    treatment every four hours, but next day there was no apparent improvement.
    In the afternoon Hasmani begged me to give him that night off duty and asked for
    a loan of ten shillings. He explained to me that it seemed to him that the white man’s
    medicine had failed to cure his child and now he wished to take the child to the local witch
    doctor. “For ten shillings” said Hasmani, “the Maganga will drive the devil out of my
    child.” “How?” asked I. “With drums”, said Hasmani confidently. I did not know what to
    do. I thought the child was too ill to be exposed to the night air, yet I knew that if I
    refused his request and the child were to die, Hasmani and all the other locals would hold
    me responsible. I very reluctantly granted his request. I was so troubled by the matter
    that I sent for George’s office clerk. Daniel, and asked him to accompany Hasmani to the
    ceremony and to report to me the next morning. It started to rain after dark and all night
    long I lay awake in bed listening to the drums and the light rain. Next morning when I
    went out to the kitchen to order breakfast I found a beaming Hasmani awaiting me.
    “Memsahib”, he said. “My child is well, the fever is now quite gone, the Maganga drove
    out the devil just as I told you.” Believe it or not, when I hurried to his quarters after
    breakfast I found the mother suckling a perfectly healthy child! It may be my imagination
    but I thought the mother looked pretty smug.The clerk Daniel told me that after Hasmani
    had presented gifts of money and food to the ‘Maganga’, the naked baby was placed
    on a goat skin near the drums. Most of the time he just lay there but sometimes the witch
    doctor picked him up and danced with the child in his arms. Daniel seemed reluctant to
    talk about it. Whatever mumbo jumbo was used all this happened a week ago and the
    baby has never looked back.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 3rd July 1939.

    Dearest Family,

    Did I tell you that one of George’s Game Scouts was murdered last month in the
    Maneromango area towards the Rufigi border. He was on routine patrol, with a porter
    carrying his bedding and food, when they suddenly came across a group of African
    hunters who were busy cutting up a giraffe which they had just killed. These hunters were
    all armed with muzzle loaders, spears and pangas, but as it is illegal to kill giraffe without
    a permit, the Scout went up to the group to take their names. Some argument ensued
    and the Scout was stabbed.

    The District Officer went to the area to investigate and decided to call in the Police
    from Dar es Salaam. A party of police went out to search for the murderers but after
    some days returned without making any arrests. George was on an elephant control
    safari in the Bagamoyo District and on his return through Dar es Salaam he heard of the
    murder. George was furious and distressed to hear the news and called in here for an
    hour on his way to Maneromango to search for the murderers himself.

    After a great deal of strenuous investigation he arrested three poachers, put them
    in jail for the night at Maneromango and then brought them to Dar es Salaam where they
    are all now behind bars. George will now have to prosecute in the Magistrate’s Court
    and try and ‘make a case’ so that the prisoners may be committed to the High Court to
    be tried for murder. George is convinced of their guilt and justifiably proud to have
    succeeded where the police failed.

    George had to borrow handcuffs for the prisoners from the Chief at
    Maneromango and these he brought back to Nzassa after delivering the prisoners to
    Dar es Salaam so that he may return them to the Chief when he revisits the area next
    week.

    I had not seen handcuffs before and picked up a pair to examine them. I said to
    George, engrossed in ‘The Times’, “I bet if you were arrested they’d never get
    handcuffs on your wrist. Not these anyway, they look too small.” “Standard pattern,”
    said George still concentrating on the newspaper, but extending an enormous relaxed
    left wrist. So, my dears, I put a bracelet round his wrist and as there was a wide gap I
    gave a hard squeeze with both hands. There was a sharp click as the handcuff engaged
    in the first notch. George dropped the paper and said, “Now you’ve done it, my love,
    one set of keys are in the Dar es Salaam Police Station, and the others with the Chief at
    Maneromango.” You can imagine how utterly silly I felt but George was an angel about it
    and said as he would have to go to Dar es Salaam we might as well all go.

    So we all piled into the car, George, the children and I in the front, and the cook
    and houseboy, immaculate in snowy khanzus and embroidered white caps, a Game
    Scout and the ayah in the back. George never once complain of the discomfort of the
    handcuff but I was uncomfortably aware that it was much too tight because his arm
    above the cuff looked red and swollen and the hand unnaturally pale. As the road is so
    bad George had to use both hands on the wheel and all the time the dangling handcuff
    clanked against the dashboard in an accusing way.

    We drove straight to the Police Station and I could hear the roars of laughter as
    George explained his predicament. Later I had to put up with a good deal of chaffing
    and congratulations upon putting the handcuffs on George.

    Eleanor.

    Nzassa 5th August 1939

    Dearest Family,

    George made a point of being here for Kate’s fourth birthday last week. Just
    because our children have no playmates George and I always do all we can to make
    birthdays very special occasions. We went to Dar es Salaam the day before the
    birthday and bought Kate a very sturdy tricycle with which she is absolutely delighted.
    You will be glad to know that your parcels arrived just in time and Kate loved all your
    gifts especially the little shop from Dad with all the miniature tins and packets of
    groceries. The tea set was also a great success and is much in use.

    We had a lively party which ended with George and me singing ‘Happy
    Birthday to you’, and ended with a wild game with balloons. Kate wore her frilly white net
    party frock and looked so pretty that it seemed a shame that there was no one but us to
    see her. Anyway it was a good party. I wish so much that you could see the children.
    Kate keeps rosy and has not yet had malaria. Johnny Jo is sturdy but pale. He
    runs a temperature now and again but I am not sure whether this is due to teething or
    malaria. Both children of course take quinine every day as George and I do. George
    quite frequently has malaria in spite of prophylactic quinine but this is not surprising as he
    got the germ thoroughly established in his system in his early elephant hunting days. I
    get it too occasionally but have not been really ill since that first time a month after my
    arrival in the country.

    Johnny is such a good baby. His chief claim to beauty is his head of soft golden
    curls but these are due to come off on his first birthday as George considers them too
    girlish. George left on safari the day after the party and the very next morning our wood
    boy had a most unfortunate accident. He was chopping a rather tough log when a chip
    flew up and split his upper lip clean through from mouth to nostril exposing teeth and
    gums. A truly horrible sight and very bloody. I cleaned up the wound as best I could
    and sent him off to the hospital at Dar es Salaam on the office bicycle. He wobbled
    away wretchedly down the road with a white cloth tied over his mouth to keep off the
    dust. He returned next day with his lip stitched and very swollen and bearing a
    resemblance to my lip that time I used the hair remover.

    Eleanor.

    Splendid Hotel. Dar es Salaam 7th September 1939

    Dearest Family,

    So now another war has started and it has disrupted even our lives. We have left
    Nzassa for good. George is now a Lieutenant in the King’s African Rifles and the children
    and I are to go to a place called Morogoro to await further developments.
    I was glad to read in today’s paper that South Africa has declared war on
    Germany. I would have felt pretty small otherwise in this hotel which is crammed full of
    men who have been called up for service in the Army. George seems exhilarated by
    the prospect of active service. He is bursting out of his uniform ( at the shoulders only!)
    and all too ready for the fray.

    The war came as a complete surprise to me stuck out in the bush as I was without
    wireless or mail. George had been away for a fortnight so you can imagine how
    surprised I was when a messenger arrived on a bicycle with a note from George. The
    note informed me that war had been declared and that George, as a Reserve Officer in
    the KAR had been called up. I was to start packing immediately and be ready by noon
    next day when George would arrive with a lorry for our goods and chattels. I started to
    pack immediately with the help of the houseboy and by the time George arrived with
    the lorry only the frig remained to be packed and this was soon done.

    Throughout the morning Game Scouts had been arriving from outlying parts of
    the District. I don’t think they had the least idea where they were supposed to go or
    whom they were to fight but were ready to fight anybody, anywhere, with George.
    They all looked very smart in well pressed uniforms hung about with water bottles and
    ammunition pouches. The large buffalo badge on their round pill box hats absolutely
    glittered with polish. All of course carried rifles and when George arrived they all lined up
    and they looked most impressive. I took some snaps but unfortunately it was drizzling
    and they may not come out well.

    We left Nzassa without a backward glance. We were pretty fed up with it by
    then. The children and I are spending a few days here with George but our luggage, the
    dogs, and the houseboys have already left by train for Morogoro where a small house
    has been found for the children and me.

    George tells me that all the German males in this Territory were interned without a
    hitch. The whole affair must have been very well organised. In every town and
    settlement special constables were sworn in to do the job. It must have been a rather
    unpleasant one but seems to have gone without incident. There is a big transit camp
    here at Dar for the German men. Later they are to be sent out of the country, possibly to
    Rhodesia.

    The Indian tailors in the town are all terribly busy making Army uniforms, shorts
    and tunics in khaki drill. George swears that they have muddled their orders and he has
    been given the wrong things. Certainly the tunic is far too tight. His hat, a khaki slouch hat
    like you saw the Australians wearing in the last war, is also too small though it is the
    largest they have in stock. We had a laugh over his other equipment which includes a
    small canvas haversack and a whistle on a black cord. George says he feels like he is
    back in his Boy Scouting boyhood.

    George has just come in to say the we will be leaving for Morogoro tomorrow
    afternoon.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 14th September 1939

    Dearest Family,

    Morogoro is a complete change from Nzassa. This is a large and sprawling
    township. The native town and all the shops are down on the flat land by the railway but
    all the European houses are away up the slope of the high Uluguru Mountains.
    Morogoro was a flourishing town in the German days and all the streets are lined with
    trees for coolness as is the case in other German towns. These trees are the flamboyant
    acacia which has an umbrella top and throws a wide but light shade.

    Most of the houses have large gardens so they cover a considerable area and it
    is quite a safari for me to visit friends on foot as our house is on the edge of this area and
    the furthest away from the town. Here ones house is in accordance with ones seniority in
    Government service. Ours is a simple affair, just three lofty square rooms opening on to
    a wide enclosed verandah. Mosquitoes are bad here so all doors and windows are
    screened and we will have to carry on with our daily doses of quinine.

    George came up to Morogoro with us on the train. This was fortunate because I
    went down with a sharp attack of malaria at the hotel on the afternoon of our departure
    from Dar es Salaam. George’s drastic cure of vast doses of quinine, a pillow over my
    head, and the bed heaped with blankets soon brought down the temperature so I was
    fit enough to board the train but felt pretty poorly on the trip. However next day I felt
    much better which was a good thing as George had to return to Dar es Salaam after two
    days. His train left late at night so I did not see him off but said good-bye at home
    feeling dreadful but trying to keep the traditional stiff upper lip of the wife seeing her
    husband off to the wars. He hopes to go off to Abyssinia but wrote from Dar es Salaam
    to say that he is being sent down to Rhodesia by road via Mbeya to escort the first
    detachment of Rhodesian white troops.

    First he will have to select suitable camping sites for night stops and arrange for
    supplies of food. I am very pleased as it means he will be safe for a while anyway. We
    are both worried about Ann and George in England and wonder if it would be safer to
    have them sent out.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 4th November 1939

    Dearest Family,

    My big news is that George has been released from the Army. He is very
    indignant and disappointed because he hoped to go to Abyssinia but I am terribly,
    terribly glad. The Chief Secretary wrote a very nice letter to George pointing out that he
    would be doing a greater service to his country by his work of elephant control, giving
    crop protection during the war years when foodstuffs are such a vital necessity, than by
    doing a soldiers job. The Government plan to start a huge rice scheme in the Rufiji area,
    and want George to control the elephant and hippo there. First of all though. he must go
    to the Southern Highlands Province where there is another outbreak of Rinderpest, to
    shoot out diseased game especially buffalo, which might spread the disease.

    So off we go again on our travels but this time we are leaving the two dogs
    behind in the care of Daniel, the Game Clerk. Fanny is very pregnant and I hate leaving
    her behind but the clerk has promised to look after her well. We are taking Hamisi, our
    dignified Swahili cook and the houseboy Juma and his wife whom we brought with us
    from Nzassa. The boy is not very good but his wife makes a cheerful and placid ayah
    and adores Johnny.

    Eleanor.

    Iringa 8th December 1939

    Dearest Family,

    The children and I are staying in a small German house leased from the
    Custodian of Enemy Property. I can’t help feeling sorry for the owners who must be in
    concentration camps somewhere.George is away in the bush dealing with the
    Rinderpest emergency and the cook has gone with him. Now I have sent the houseboy
    and the ayah away too. Two days ago my houseboy came and told me that he felt
    very ill and asked me to write a ‘chit’ to the Indian Doctor. In the note I asked the Doctor
    to let me know the nature of his complaint and to my horror I got a note from him to say
    that the houseboy had a bad case of Venereal Disease. Was I horrified! I took it for
    granted that his wife must be infected too and told them both that they would have to
    return to their home in Nzassa. The boy shouted and the ayah wept but I paid them in
    lieu of notice and gave them money for the journey home. So there I was left servant
    less with firewood to chop, a smokey wood burning stove to control, and of course, the
    two children.

    To add to my troubles Johnny had a temperature so I sent for the European
    Doctor. He diagnosed malaria and was astonished at the size of Johnny’s spleen. He
    said that he must have had suppressed malaria over a long period and the poor child
    must now be fed maximum doses of quinine for a long time. The Doctor is a fatherly
    soul, he has been recalled from retirement to do this job as so many of the young
    doctors have been called up for service with the army.

    I told him about my houseboy’s complaint and the way I had sent him off
    immediately, and he was very amused at my haste, saying that it is most unlikely that
    they would have passed the disease onto their employers. Anyway I hated the idea. I
    mean to engage a houseboy locally, but will do without an ayah until we return to
    Morogoro in February.

    Something happened today to cheer me up. A telegram came from Daniel which
    read, “FLANNEL HAS FIVE CUBS.”

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 10th March 1940

    Dearest Family,

    We are having very heavy rain and the countryside is a most beautiful green. In
    spite of the weather George is away on safari though it must be very wet and
    unpleasant. He does work so hard at his elephant hunting job and has got very thin. I
    suppose this is partly due to those stomach pains he gets and the doctors don’t seem
    to diagnose the trouble.

    Living in Morogoro is much like living in a country town in South Africa, particularly
    as there are several South African women here. I go out quite often to morning teas. We
    all take our war effort knitting, and natter, and are completely suburban.
    I sometimes go and see an elderly couple who have been interred here. They
    are cold shouldered by almost everyone else but I cannot help feeling sorry for them.
    Usually I go by invitation because I know Mrs Ruppel prefers to be prepared and
    always has sandwiches and cake. They both speak English but not fluently and
    conversation is confined to talking about my children and theirs. Their two sons were
    students in Germany when war broke out but are now of course in the German Army.
    Such nice looking chaps from their photographs but I suppose thorough Nazis. As our
    conversation is limited I usually ask to hear a gramophone record or two. They have a
    large collection.

    Janet, the ayah whom I engaged at Mbeya, is proving a great treasure. She is a
    trained hospital ayah and is most dependable and capable. She is, perhaps, a little strict
    but the great thing is that I can trust her with the children out of my sight.
    Last week I went out at night for the first time without George. The occasion was
    a farewell sundowner given by the Commissioner of Prisoners and his wife. I was driven
    home by the District Officer and he stopped his car by the back door in a large puddle.
    Ayah came to the back door, storm lamp in hand, to greet me. My escort prepared to
    drive off but the car stuck. I thought a push from me might help, so without informing the
    driver, I pushed as hard as I could on the back of the car. Unfortunately the driver
    decided on other tactics. He put the engine in reverse and I was knocked flat on my back
    in the puddle. The car drove forward and away without the driver having the least idea of
    what happened. The ayah was in quite a state, lifting me up and scolding me for my
    stupidity as though I were Kate. I was a bit shaken but non the worse and will know
    better next time.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 14th July 1940

    Dearest Family,

    How good it was of Dad to send that cable to Mother offering to have Ann and
    George to live with you if they are accepted for inclusion in the list of children to be
    evacuated to South Africa. It would be wonderful to know that they are safely out of the
    war zone and so much nearer to us but I do dread the thought of the long sea voyage
    particularly since we heard the news of the sinking of that liner carrying child evacuees to
    Canada. I worry about them so much particularly as George is so often away on safari.
    He is so comforting and calm and I feel brave and confident when he is home.
    We have had no news from England for five weeks but, when she last wrote,
    mother said the children were very well and that she was sure they would be safe in the
    country with her.

    Kate and John are growing fast. Kate is such a pretty little girl, rosy in spite of the
    rather trying climate. I have allowed her hair to grow again and it hangs on her shoulders
    in shiny waves. John is a more slightly built little boy than young George was, and quite
    different in looks. He has Dad’s high forehead and cleft chin, widely spaced brown eyes
    that are not so dark as mine and hair that is still fair and curly though ayah likes to smooth it
    down with water every time she dresses him. He is a shy child, and although he plays
    happily with Kate, he does not care to play with other children who go in the late
    afternoons to a lawn by the old German ‘boma’.

    Kate has playmates of her own age but still rather clings to me. Whilst she loves
    to have friends here to play with her, she will not go to play at their houses unless I go
    too and stay. She always insists on accompanying me when I go out to morning tea
    and always calls JanetJohn’s ayah”. One morning I went to a knitting session at a
    neighbours house. We are all knitting madly for the troops. As there were several other
    women in the lounge and no other children, I installed Kate in the dining room with a
    colouring book and crayons. My hostess’ black dog was chained to the dining room
    table leg, but as he and Kate are on friendly terms I was not bothered by this.
    Some time afterwards, during a lull in conversation, I heard a strange drumming
    noise coming from the dining room. I went quickly to investigate and, to my horror, found
    Kate lying on her back with the dog chain looped around her neck. The frightened dog
    was straining away from her as far as he could get and the chain was pulled so tightly
    around her throat that she could not scream. The drumming noise came from her heels
    kicking in a panic on the carpet.

    Even now I do not know how Kate got herself into this predicament. Luckily no
    great harm was done but I think I shall do my knitting at home in future.

    Eleanor.

    Morogoro 16th November 1940

    Dearest Family,

    I much prefer our little house on the hillside to the larger one we had down below.
    The only disadvantage is that the garden is on three levels and both children have had
    some tumbles down the steps on the tricycle. John is an extremely stoical child. He
    never cries when he hurts himself.

    I think I have mentioned ‘Morningside’ before. It is a kind of Resthouse high up in
    the Uluguru Mountains above Morogoro. Jess Howe-Browne, who runs the large
    house as a Guest House, is a wonderful woman. Besides running the boarding house
    she also grows vegetables, flowers and fruit for sale in Morogoro and Dar es Salaam.
    Her guests are usually women and children from Dar es Salaam who come in the hot
    season to escape the humidity on the coast. Often the mothers leave their children for
    long periods in Jess Howe-Browne’s care. There is a road of sorts up the mountain side
    to Morningside, but this is so bad that cars do not attempt it and guests are carried up
    the mountain in wicker chairs lashed to poles. Four men carry an adult, and two a child,
    and there are of course always spare bearers and they work in shifts.

    Last week the children and I went to Morningside for the day as guests. John
    rode on my lap in one chair and Kate in a small chair on her own. This did not please
    Kate at all. The poles are carried on the bearers shoulders and one is perched quite high.
    The motion is a peculiar rocking one. The bearers chant as they go and do not seem
    worried by shortness of breath! They are all hillmen of course and are, I suppose, used
    to trotting up and down to the town.

    Morningside is well worth visiting and we spent a delightful day there. The fresh
    cool air is a great change from the heavy air of the valley. A river rushes down the
    mountain in a series of cascades, and the gardens are shady and beautiful. Behind the
    property is a thick indigenous forest which stretches from Morningside to the top of the
    mountain. The house is an old German one, rather in need of repair, but Jess has made
    it comfortable and attractive, with some of her old family treasures including a fine old
    Grandfather clock. We had a wonderful lunch which included large fresh strawberries and
    cream. We made the return journey again in the basket chairs and got home before dark.
    George returned home at the weekend with a baby elephant whom we have
    called Winnie. She was rescued from a mud hole by some African villagers and, as her
    mother had abandoned her, they took her home and George was informed. He went in
    the truck to fetch her having first made arrangements to have her housed in a shed on the
    Agriculture Department Experimental Farm here. He has written to the Game Dept
    Headquarters to inform the Game Warden and I do not know what her future will be, but
    in the meantime she is our pet. George is afraid she will not survive because she has
    had a very trying time. She stands about waist high and is a delightful creature and quite
    docile. Asian and African children as well as Europeans gather to watch her and George
    encourages them to bring fruit for her – especially pawpaws which she loves.
    Whilst we were there yesterday one of the local ladies came, very smartly
    dressed in a linen frock, silk stockings, and high heeled shoes. She watched fascinated
    whilst Winnie neatly split a pawpaw and removed the seeds with her trunk, before
    scooping out the pulp and putting it in her mouth. It was a particularly nice ripe pawpaw
    and Winnie enjoyed it so much that she stretched out her trunk for more. The lady took
    fright and started to run with Winnie after her, sticky trunk outstretched. Quite an
    entertaining sight. George managed to stop Winnie but not before she had left a gooey
    smear down the back of the immaculate frock.

    Eleanor.

     

    #6255
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    My Grandparents

    George Samuel Marshall 1903-1995

    Florence Noreen Warren (Nora) 1906-1988

    I always called my grandfather Mop, apparently because I couldn’t say the name Grandpa, but whatever the reason, the name stuck. My younger brother also called him Mop, but our two cousins did not.

    My earliest memories of my grandparents are the picnics.  Grandma and Mop loved going out in the car for a picnic. Favourite spots were the Clee Hills in Shropshire, North Wales, especially Llanbedr, Malvern, and Derbyshire, and closer to home, the caves and silver birch woods at Kinver Edge, Arley by the river Severn, or Bridgnorth, where Grandma’s sister Hildreds family lived.  Stourbridge was on the western edge of the Black Country in the Midlands, so one was quickly in the countryside heading west.  They went north to Derbyshire less, simply because the first part of the trip entailed driving through Wolverhampton and other built up and not particularly pleasant urban areas.  I’m sure they’d have gone there more often, as they were both born in Derbyshire, if not for that initial stage of the journey.

    There was predominantly grey tartan car rug in the car for picnics, and a couple of folding chairs.  There were always a couple of cushions on the back seat, and I fell asleep in the back more times than I can remember, despite intending to look at the scenery.  On the way home Grandma would always sing,  “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed, I had a little drink about an hour ago, And it’s gone right to my head.”  I’ve looked online for that song, and have not found it anywhere!

    Grandma didn’t just make sandwiches for picnics, there were extra containers of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and so on.  I used to love to wash up the picnic plates in the little brook on the Clee Hills, near Cleeton St Mary.  The close cropped grass was ideal for picnics, and Mop and the sheep would Baaa at each other.

    Mop would base the days outting on the weather forcast, but Grandma often used to say he always chose the opposite of what was suggested. She said if you want to go to Derbyshire, tell him you want to go to Wales.  I recall him often saying, on a gloomy day, Look, there’s a bit of clear sky over there.  Mop always did the driving as Grandma never learned to drive. Often she’d dust the dashboard with a tissue as we drove along.

    My brother and I often spent the weekend at our grandparents house, so that our parents could go out on a Saturday night.  They gave us 5 shillings pocket money, which I used to spend on two Ladybird books at 2 shillings and sixpence each.  We had far too many sweets while watching telly in the evening ~ in the dark, as they always turned the lights off to watch television.  The lemonade and pop was Corona, and came in returnable glass bottles.  We had Woodpecker cider too, even though it had a bit of an alcohol content.

    Mop smoked Kensitas and Grandma smoked Sovereign cigarettes, or No6, and the packets came with coupons.  They often let me choose something for myself out of the catalogue when there were enough coupons saved up.

    When I had my first garden, in a rented house a short walk from theirs, they took me to garden nurseries and taught me all about gardening.  In their garden they had berberis across the front of the house under the window, and cotoneaster all along the side of the garage wall. The silver birth tree on the lawn had been purloined as a sapling from Kinver edge, when they first moved into the house.  (they lived in that house on Park Road for more than 60 years).  There were perennials and flowering shrubs along the sides of the back garden, and behind the silver birch, and behind that was the vegeatable garden.  Right at the back was an Anderson shelter turned into a shed, the rhubarb, and the washing line, and the canes for the runner beans in front of those.  There was a little rose covered arch on the path on the left, and privet hedges all around the perimeter.

    My grandfather was a dental technician. He worked for various dentists on their premises over the years, but he always had a little workshop of his own at the back of his garage. His garage was full to the brim of anything that might potentially useful, but it was not chaotic. He knew exactly where to find anything, from the tiniest screw for spectacles to a useful bit of wire. He was “mechanicaly minded” and could always fix things like sewing machines and cars and so on.

    Mop used to let me sit with him in his workshop, and make things out of the pink wax he used for gums to embed the false teeth into prior to making the plaster casts. The porcelain teeth came on cards, and were strung in place by means of little holes on the back end of the teeth. I still have a necklace I made by threading teeth onto a string. There was a foot pedal operated drill in there as well, possibly it was a dentists drill previously, that he used with miniature grinding or polishing attachments. Sometimes I made things out of the pink acrylic used for the final denture, which had a strong smell and used to harden quickly, so you had to work fast. Initially, the workshop was to do the work for Uncle Ralph, Grandmas’s sisters husband, who was a dentist. In later years after Ralph retired, I recall a nice man called Claude used to come in the evening to collect the dentures for another dental laboratory. Mop always called his place of work the laboratory.

    Grandma loved books and was always reading, in her armchair next to the gas fire. I don’t recall seeing Mop reading a book, but he was amazingly well informed about countless topics.
    At family gatherings, Mops favourite topic of conversation after dinner was the atrocities committed over the centuries by organized religion.

    My grandfather played snooker in his younger years at the Conservative club. I recall my father assuming he voted Conservative, and Mop told him in no uncertain terms that he’s always voted Labour. When asked why he played snooker at the Conservative club and not the Labour club, he said with a grin that “it was a better class of people”, but that he’d never vote Conservative because it was of no benefit to the likes of us working people.

    Grandma and her sister in law Marie had a little grocers shop on Brettel Lane in Amblecote for a few years but I have no personal recollection of that as it was during the years we lived in USA. I don’t recall her working other than that. She had a pastry making day once a week, and made Bakewell tart, apple pie, a meat pie, and her own style of pizza. She had an old black hand operated sewing machine, and made curtains and loose covers for the chairs and sofa, but I don’t think she made her own clothes, at least not in later years. I have her sewing machine here in Spain.
    At regular intervals she’d move all the furniture around and change the front room into the living room and the back into the dining room and vice versa. In later years Mop always had the back bedroom (although when I lived with them aged 14, I had the back bedroom, and painted the entire room including the ceiling purple). He had a very lumpy mattress but he said it fit his bad hip perfectly.

    Grandma used to alternate between the tiny bedroom and the big bedroom at the front. (this is in later years, obviously) The wardrobes and chests of drawers never changed, they were oak and substantial, but rather dated in appearance. They had a grandfather clock with a brass face and a grandmother clock. Over the fireplace in the living room was a Utrillo print. The bathroom and lavatory were separate rooms, and the old claw foot bath had wood panels around it to make it look more modern. There was a big hot water geyser above it. Grandma was fond of using stick on Fablon tile effects to try to improve and update the appearance of the bathroom and kitchen. Mop was a generous man, but would not replace household items that continued to function perfectly well. There were electric heaters in all the rooms, of varying designs, and gas fires in living room and dining room. The coal house on the outside wall was later turned into a downstairs shower room, when Mop moved his bedroom downstairs into the front dining room, after Grandma had died and he was getting on.

    Utrillo

    Mop was 91 when he told me he wouldn’t be growing any vegetables that year. He said the sad thing was that he knew he’d never grow vegetables again. He worked part time until he was in his early 80s.

    #6208
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Not so fast!” Glor muttered grimly, grabbing a flapping retreating arm of each of her friends, and yanking them to her sides. “Now’s our chance. It’s a trap, dontcha see? They got the wind up, and they’re gonna round us all up, it don’t bear thinking about what they’ll do next!”

    With her free hand Mavis felt Gloria’s forehead, her palm slipping unpleasantly over the feverish salty slick.  “Her’s deplirious, Sha, not right in the ‘ead, the ‘eat’s got to her.  Solar over dose or whatever they call it nowadays.”

    “My life depends on going to the bloody assembly hall, Glor, let go of my arm before I give yer a Glasgow kiss,” Sharon hissed, ignoring Mavis.

    “I’m trying to save you!” screeched Gloria, her head exploding in exasperation.  She took a deep breath.  Told herself to stop screeching like that, wasn’t helping her cause.  Should she just let go of Sharon’s arm?

    Mavis started trying to take the pulse on Glor’s restraining wrists, provoking Gloria beyond endurance, and she lashed out and slapped Mavis’s free hand away, unintentionally freeing Sharon from her grasp.  This further upset the balance and Gloria tumbled into Mavis at the moment of slapping her hand, causing a considerably more forceful manoeuvre than was intended.

    Sharon didn’t hesitate to defend Mavis from the apparently deranged attack, and dived on to Gloria, pinning her arms behind her back.

    Mavis scrambled to her feet and backed away slowly, nursing her hand, wide eyed and slack jawed in astonishment.

    Where was this going?

    #6200
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Clean it up yourself,” snarled Finnley throwing a piece of bhum bottle towards Liz. “You were the one what knocked it over.” She glared menacingly at Liz who  jumped behind the philodendron plant in alarm.

    Finnley you are looking very ferocious … whatever is wrong?”

    “I am not going to waste my life cleaning up after you!” Finnley tilted her chin defiantly. “I have aspirations, Madam.”

    “But Finnley, cleaning is what I pay you to do.” Liz shook her head in bewilderment at the girl’s audacity. “We all have our gifts. I was blessed with the gift of writing. Roberto is visually fetching and potters in the garden. Godfrey … well I don’t know what he does but it could be something to do with peanuts—I must ask one day. And you, Finnley, you clean. It’s your vocation in life.”

    Finnley beamed. “Vacation! now you’re talking, Madam! Where shall we go?”

    “Vacation! I suppose you’ve heard of glowvid?” Liz waved her right hand at Finnley and then held the palm to her up to her face and considered it carefully. “Look, Finnley! The glow has all but gone.”

    #6187
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    You can’t blame me for not updating my diary because bugger all has happened all year.  Borders closed, no tourists allowed in.  How are bespoke bijou boutique establishments like ours supposed to survive?  But we’re still here. Somehow we’ve managed to keep the wolf from the door, but only just barely.  I get a bit muddled up these days and can’t remember the dates. Sometimes I find myself living in the past for weeks on end: things change so little around her that it’s easy to do. But what does it matter anyway?

    Mater went into a sulk the likes of which I hope never to see again, when her 100th birthday party was cancelled. I thought she might give up the will to live, but oh no. She’s determined now to have a 110th birthday party now.  She says the bloody pandemic ought to be over by then.  I hope she’s right. She changes her health food and exercise regimes as often as she changes her knickers. Well more often than that, probably, she doesn’t bother much with personal hygiene.  She says the germs keep her immune system in good shape.  I think the smell of her would keep any plague ridden body well away from her, but whatever works, I always say.  At least she isn’t sulking anymore, she’s grimly stoic now and tediously determined to outlive me.

    I had some worrying news through the telepathic grapevine about the twins and Pan, they’d gotten into the clutches of a strange cult over there.  I’ve got a feeling they weren’t really sucked into it though, I think they needed to use it as a cover, or to keep themselves safe.  I say cult but it was huge, took over the entire country and even started spreading to other countries. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with.  I knew they shouldn’t have gone there.  There’s been a peculiar blockage with the telepathic messages for ages now.  It’s a worry, but what can I do.   I keep sending them messages, but get nothing in return.

    Ah, well. We carry on as best we can. What I wouldn’t give for an unexpected visitor to brighten things up a bit. Fat chance of that.

    #6163

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    secret feet clothes

    finally story suddenly known

    pain added sometimes feeling

    chinese whatever

    top side telling

    whispered continue

    mars work bag

    #5956
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    I woke up this morning with a stiff neck. I do not mention it too much with my friend because some of them have a tendency to look for a reason behind anything like you have a choice that you don’t want to make, or you don’t listen your truth, or whatever one can invent in such a case. I’m sure someone would even mention a past life when my head was cut off. Today I don’t want other people’s opinion about me so I just say it’s a way for me to take care of myself.

    Today I take things one at a time. I called a few friends to take news, and only one of them answered. Which is fine by me because I didn’t really want to talk, only to make the effort to connect. I went into the garden, the grass is tall and it looks like a prairie. I’m sure wild mice enjoy it, and the neighbour’s cats also. One of them has a roof full of them redheads and black ones. I see them cross the wild grass one at a time, each has their own habitual path.

    I love looking at them. It’s quieting.

    There was an argument somewhere. I heard people shout. A man and a woman. It sounded like a soap, so I’m not sure it wasn’t someone’s TV on. The air was so clear, the absence of the cars and normal conversations gave it enough place to express. Each silence they left in between their arguments was filled with sounds of nature.

    I have a new family of birds coming into the garden. I baked them some wild rice with carrots and some fat. Someone told me it’s the last day you can feed them, afterwards it’s best they look for food for themselves as spring is here. So I’ve made the stew although I haven’t fed them during winter. I can tell they enjoyed it as nothing was left when I came back two hours ago.

    #5844
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Life around the woods had changed in a strange way since the appearance of the beaver fever. It was called after some theory from where it came from. Some said patient zero was a trapper far off in the woods who caught an infected beaver and sold its fur to the market. The fur then contaminated the coat maker and then the clients who tried on that coat, hence leading to contamination nests in the entire realm. The beaver fever took time to incubate, so when people first noticed the trapper wasn’t coming back, it was too late.

    That’s not such a bad thing to live a little recluse in the woods, thought Eleri. She usually was restless and lately had been wandering off into town and into the countryside looking for things to paint with her tar black pigment. It is a new phase of experimentation, she had said to Glynis who had been wondering if she could include more variety to her palette. I’m looking to capture the contrasting soul of what I’m painting.

    Don’t you mean contrasted? asked Glynis.

    Do I? Whatever, I’m experimenting.

    Glynis knew better than to argue with Eleri, and Eleri knew better than trying to make words fit the world. It was better to make the world fit her words. How could you explain that to someone? So she assumed people understood.

    With the curfew, though, it had first become harder. Then she had found a way by painting her own garments tar black and to complete her attire, she had asked Fox. He had also found a hobby and with a sharp knife and a log he could make you a mask so vivid to look alike anything you asked. Eleri had asked him for a crow and had painted it tar black. She looked like those doctors during the plague a few centuries back and dressed like that people certainly respected the safety distance promulgated by Leroway’s decree.

    That man seemed hard to get rid off, especially in time such as those. Eleri suspected that Leroway was not the man she knew and once courted her. She needed to get close to investigate. Her new attire, if it might not help with the investigation at least would help embolden her and stave off boredom.

    #5834
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Shaking, Liz wiped the egg yolk out of the corner of her eye. The beer that was gluing her hair into sticky clumps would have to wait. She flicked a half sausage off the corner of her desk with a tremulous sigh and sat down. Her noble features creased into a momentary visage of despair when she saw the bacon, but her natural stoicism corrected her expression as she picked the rasher up between her thumb and finger, removed if from her keyboard and blithely flicked it over her shoulder.

    Roberto, standing silently behind her, ducked nimbly as the greasy slab flew past.  It stuck to the French window briefly and then slithered down, leaving a snail trail of lard.

    Liz cleared her throat and looked sternly at each of them in turn.

    “What,” she said, her voice cracking, “What next? Whatever next?”

    “A whale, maybe?” asked Godfrey with a lop sided smirk.

    #5807

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The front door of Mr French had a certain Gothic quality to it which caught the eye of Star. She was a sucker for the glitz and the extravagant –the more garish, the better. Had she got her way, their office would be full of the cumbersome stuff. Catching the glint in Star’s green eyes, Tara rolled hers. She clanged the metal lion to signal their presence.

    A decrepit butler called off their ruckus after what seemed like a pause in eternity. They could hear the rambling from a distance behind the door. “I’m coming! No need for such noise! Ah, these youngs nowadays, not a shred of patience!…”

    “Are you sure about it Star? After all, the deposit check cleared, why should we be concerned about Mr French. And we still haven’t got much to go on about Uncle Basil…”

    “Shttt, let me handle it,” replied Star shaping her face into a genial one, oozing honey and butterflies.

    When the butler finally opened the door, he snapped her shut “We’re not interested in whatever… hem, services you’re offering Mesdames.”

    Tara caught Star’s hand mid-air, as it was about to fly and land square on the rude dried up mummy’s face in front of them.

    “Sir, you must have us confused. We’ve been hired a week ago by Mr French for a very private matter we cannot obviously discuss on the doorstep. Please check with Mr French, maybe?”

    The butler’s face turned sour. “Yes of course, I understand. Then you should know Mr French has been in a coma since his dreadful accident last month. Since you have a direct line to him, I suggest you… call him?” And with that, he slammed the door shut on their faces.

    “Rude!” Tara mouthed.

    “At least, that tells us something my dear.”

    “Don’t bait me like this. I’ll ask, what exactly?”

    “That our Mr French is not who he says he is…”

    “I wonder if it has something to do with the immense fortune he made with his voice…”

    “That would be a very interesting question to answer indeed.”

    #5788
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The first thing the dwarf did was a finger of honor. “Take that darn blubbit queen!” he shouted before he crumbled butt naked down on the wooden floor surrounded by his former golden carapace. His skin was still glowing with a strange lucent light.

    “What did he say?” asked Fox.

    “What’s a blubbit?” asked Olliver.

    Glynis put her hands on the baby snoots eyes, but there were too many of them and she only had two hands.

    “Have you seen his skin?” asked Eleri.

    “Well yes, he’s butt naked,” said Kumihimo.

    Gorrash had had time to clear his mind and started to realise they were all looking at him.

    “I mean, he HAS a skin now,” insisted Eleri. “Smooth and… all that comes with it. Not his former rocky mossy textured whatever it was before even after daylight.”

    The dwarf who never had to worry about his own modesty before couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of that simple fact. “Am I still dreaming?” His stomach growled and he looked surprised at his belly. “Am I starving?” Fox laughed.

    Glynis brought the dwarf a blanket, and he marvelled at the roughness of it on his new skin. They all started to talk at the same time, wanting to know about the blubbits, about the new skin, asking Kumihimo and Rukshan how it was possible.

    “I don’t know,” they both said.

    “Well! I don’t know about you, but now that he has skin he can certainly appreciate some champagne with us!” said Margoritt, trotting to the kitchen. She came back with a bottle and a sabre. “Who wants to crack it open?”

    “Don’t forget the food,” said Glynis. “It’ll be his first time eating.” Olliver brought some leftovers of Jambalaya, salad and cheese among other things.

    “How can he eat so much?” would ask Eleri later.

    #5783
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “How in tarnation did ya do that?” Arthur looked at his wife suspiciously.

    “Do what, honey?” Ella Marie replied, feigning innocence.

    “This here lottery win! How did you do that? You aint been doing them there voodoo tricks again, have you? You promised…”

    “Oh heck Art, it’s pure chance,  a million to one, you know that! We just got lucky, is all.”  But she couldn’t meet his eye.  “Well I had to do somethin’! It aint for us, it’s for those friends of Jacqui’s. When I heard they’d been locked up in jail on cooked up charges, after being so excited about visiting the family, well I couldn’t bear it.”

    “You promised you wasn’t gonna do that hokey pokey stuff no more,” Arthur said.

    “Yes but it aint for us. This is different, just a one time thing, helping out friends.  We can pay the bail money for ’em now and get ’em outta that stinking hellpit.  Aint no place for decent ladies, Art.”

    “They’ll need some darned expensive lawyers to fight the Beige House, and fat chance of winning.” Art looked doubtful.

    “Oh they won’t stick around to fight the case. I had this idea,” Ella Marie had that old twinkle in her eye that used to get Art all fired up, back in the day. “We’re gonna buy them a boat. I been talking to Jacqui ’bout it. An old flame of hers turned up who can sail the boat for them.”

    “How big’s the boat?” asked Art, an idea brewing in his head. He’d always wanted to sail around the world.

    “Well we aint bought the boat yet, Art, the lottery check only just arrived.  How ’bout we go down to Orange Beach Marina and see what’s for sale? We could have a seafood lunch, make a day of it.”

    A big smile spread across the old mans face. ” Well, hell, Ella Marie, I guess we can do whatever we darn well please now!  Let’s do it! And,” he added, planting a loud smackeroo of a kiss on her forehead, “Let’s get a boat big enough for all of us.   I’ve got an adventure in me, afore I pop my clogs, I sure do.”

    #5624
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Finnley

    It’s a funny thing what tiredness can do to a girl. I could have sworn it was daytime when I knocked on Mr August’s door. Turned out it was nearly midnight and Mr August wasn’t best pleased to see me. Judging by the giggling I could hear and the way he was trying to barricade the door, he already had company. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a bit of a ladies’ man with his smooth chest and satin bath-robe. (Although, if you ask me, the embroidered dragon down the front is overkill). Mr August snapped at me that I had the job and he’d get the paperwork sorted tomorrow. The mix-up worked out in my favour; he was that keen to get shot of me and back to business.

    Not knowing what else to do, I made myself a possie under a large desk in the hall and tried to get comfy. Anyway, that’s when the fun really started. The maid, the rude one who took the baby, came tiptoeing out of her room wringing her hands and muttering that she had a doubt. Not long after that, two middle-aged ladies barged in, both off their faces I would say. “I’ll give that maid Alabama if anything has happened to our Barron!” shouted the short one, and they lurched their way into the baby’s room.

    Good grief.

    Finally, the maid tiptoed back to her room and the ladies went back to whatever hole they’d crawled from and I hoped that me and the baby would be able to get some sleep at last. Who was I kidding? I nearly managed to drop off when the doorbell rang again. The maid answered it—I’m starting to understand why she is so ill-tempered; she never gets any sleep. This time it’s some crazy looking lady who said she had come to help me! But I’ve never seen her before in my life!

    Weirdo, right?
    ,
    I’m pretty flabbergasted by the lack of security and all the comings and goings. Things are going to be a bit different from now on, I can tell you that right now.

    #5610
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Nobody else can see him, Liz. Or her. Whatever.”

    Liz shoved her glasses back up her nose and peered at Finnley. “What are you on about now?”

    “Trebuchet. Nobody else can see it. I’ve asked Godfrey. I’ve asked Roberto. I asked all your ex-husbands. I even skyped that maid we sent packing  in a suitcase—she’s fine by the way—and she said she had a doubt too.”

    “Those fools! What would they know!”

    “I’m many things but I’m no fool!” said Godfrey emerging from behind the curtains.

    “Why on earth are you wearing a pith helmet, Godfrey?”

    Godfrey beamed. “Glad you noticed. What do you think? Alessandro told me it was all the rage.”

    “I’m very uncomfortable with fashion, Godfrey. As you well know. One of the reasons I hired you was for your obvious lack of any fashion sense. And as for you, Finnley, if you don’t exchange those wide-legged pants for something less à la mode, I will have to re-instate a uniform.”

    #4868

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    sorry uncle, whatever wall side leave company
    muttered inspector
    follow thread heat
    sound paused
    places feet
    possibly known months followed morning

    #4865
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    So whatever did happen to those two women who went down the mine? Good question!
    I can tell you one thing, they hadn’t had the Etruscan flu like the rest of us, and when they finally resurfaced, they had a bit of a shock. They haven’t really recovered yet, they look dazed all the time. They were in good shape when they came out of the mines, don’t ask me how. A bit pale. I don’t know what they’d been eating but they hadn’t lost any weight, and oddly enough all tidy and spanking clean, considering they’d spent months down an old mine. I’d have expected them to be ragged and filthy and emaciated, but they looked better than we did. We were still too sluggish from the flu to ask them what had happened.

    #4864
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    We finally figured out what was wrong with everyone, making us all lounge around for weeks on end, or maybe it was months, god knows it went on for a lot longer than our usual bored listless spells. Barely a word passed anyone’s lips for days at a time, and not a great deal of food either. None of us had the will to cook after awhile, and when the hunger pangs roused us, we’d shuffle into the kitchen and shovel down whatever was at hand. A wedge of raw cabbage, or a few spoonfuls of flour, once all the packets of biscuits and crisps had gone, and the pies out of the freezer.

    Finley seemed to cope better than anyone, although not up to her usual standard. But she managed to feed the animals and water the tomatoes occasionally, and was good at suggesting improvisations, when the toilet paper ran out for example. The lethargy and slow wittedness of us all was probably remarkable, but we were far too disinterested in everything to notice at the time.

    To be honest, it would all be a blank if I hadn’t found that my portable telephone contraption had been taking videos randomly throughout the tedious weeks. It was unsettling to say the least, looking at those, I can tell you.

    It started to ease off, slowly: I’d suddenly find myself throwing the ball for the dog, picking up the camera because something caught my eye, I even had a shower one day. I noticed the others now and then seemed to take an interest in something, briefly. We all needed to lie down for a few hours to recover, but we’re all back to normal now. Well I say normal.

    Finly looked at some news one day, and it wasn’t just us that had the Etruscan flu, it had been a pandemic. There had hardly been any news for months because nobody could be bothered to do it, and anyway, nothing had happened anywhere. Everyone all over the world was just lounging around, not saying anything and barely eating, not showering, not doing laundry, not traveling anywhere.

    And you know what the funny thing is? It’s like a garden of Eden out there now, air quality clean as a whistle, the right weather in all the right places, it’s like a miracle.

    And everyone’s slowed down, I mean speeded up since the flu, but slower than before, less frantic. Just sitting on the porch breathing the lovely air and thinking what a fine day it is.

    One good thing is that we’re taking showers regularly again.

    #4861
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Typical of Eleri to leave us hanging there like that.” Fox said between his teeth.
    “Oh you know, I wouldn’t have hold my breath for a promise of whatever’s been happening.” tittered Glynis.

    “Oh, by the way,” Fox suddenly recalled “I’ve received a message from Rukshan. He’s been sailing through the dodlums…”

    Glynis giggled “Doldrums, you mean doldrums…”

    “Yeah, something like that.” Fox became somber, he always felt rebuked when he had interesting news to share.
    “Anyway, I’m off to my teleportation course. Olliver’s been trading me courses for shapeshifting mentorship.”

    “Oh, good. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to be at multiple places at once. Like doing the chores at the cottage, while chopping wood at the same time.”

    “Way to kill the mood lady!” Fox, said leaving a dust trail in his wake.

Viewing 20 results - 1 through 20 (of 203 total)