Saturday, 13 October 2007

Nanny Povey

My paternal grandmother, known to me as “Nanny” lived at 12 Robertson Road, Eastville, Bristol.


That’s where she had lived with my paternal grandfather George Henry Povey. He was a plumber and gas fitter, in business on his own.

He died in 1939 when, riding a bicycle, he was struck by a car on Church Rd, St. George, Bristol.

Nanny would have been about 59 years old when her husband died.

Only my oldest sister, born in 1937 remembers him.

Nanny lived in increasing poverty in her house which had an overgrown back garden, a conservatory, and the plumbers’ workshop where I played with old tools and barrels of “red lead”.

She subsisted on a widow’s pension, and by the time she died was living in the one inhabitable room of that house. She had no money to fix it up, nor did my Dad, her only child.

Nanny was a Bennett, (a last name derived from the Benedictine Order of monks). She was born near Easton Road, and her father had been a coal miner (there were surface coal mines in Bristol in the 1870’s/1880’s). She had been Sarah Bennett before her marriage, but was always known as Sally.


Nanny was proud and stubborn, and was not close to her siblings. I knew two of them - Aunt Polly who lived in Hanham (which made her very grand), and Aunt Carrie (Caroline).

Nanny would have occasional disagreements with my mother, and for a time she would be “persona non grata” in our home. Nanny would then lurk in our neighbourhood, certain to be spotted by one of the older children. We would say “Nanny wants to come into the house”, and Mum would always say “yes”.

I loved my Nanny, the only grandparent I knew. Despite her poverty, she could always be counted upon to give me, and my twin, thruppence or six pence which we would spend across the street at Hooper’s Sweet Shop.

There the shop assistant would make us giggle as she would always say “threa-pence” (as in “threat’), or “foe-pence”.

Once, to my later shame, I conned Nanny out of five shillings, (maybe one sixth of her weekly income) to buy a haversack which I so desperately wanted.

Around the corner from Nanny’s house, on Mivart Street, was an off license where , in post-war reconstruction, I first saw a sign for “Coca-Cola”. I had not the slightest idea what it meant - I had no context for those words.

Nanny shopped at a Grocery on St. Mark’s Road. The owners were a bit suspect as they were Roman Catholics, and sent their only child, a daughter, to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic School.

But oh the smells. Flour, biscuits, tea, sugar and other dried goods in wooden barrels or tins - each to be scooped out and weighed.

And here are some final memories of Nanny.

She told me how she had seen Queen Victoria in a parade in Bristol, and had been given a “penny bun” that day.

Even my youngest brother Martyn, six years old when she died, can remember her saying “make haste” rather than “hurry up”.

She attended “Spiritualist” meetings in the hope of receiving messages from her late husband. These meetings were led by one “Mrs. Bowden” .

My parents, in their Plymouth Brethren days hated “Spiritualism” , and Mrs. Bowden in particular.

With hindsight I came to understand that Nanny was never a “Spiritualist” . She was simply a lonely widow.

In later life Nanny “accepted Jesus”, thus the Plymouth Brethren Elder Ernie Cox was able to preside at Nanny’s funeral. He even preached (at length) at her graveside, on a day which was pouring with rain.


Between the ages of (say) 13 and 16, I would stop by Nanny’s home on my way to Fairfield School, and make a coal fire in her one habitable room

On the way home I would again stop by and stoke and re-fuel the fire.

I claim no credit for this as I was horribly and self consciously “good”

But I am now glad that I did this, even as a self-righteous young Plymouth Brother

Friday, 12 October 2007

For the next generation

It was cool enough to garden this morning. That means it was 76F at 7:30 a.m!

On some other coolish mornings I’d been clearing out a garden circle in front of my condo, removing old, and weed-infested Juniper, and digging deep to get the roots.

I didn’t want to replace the Juniper with what I call “shopping plaza” shrubs and bushes (boring!), so earlier in the week I took myself to the wonderful Florida Native Plants Nursery near Old Myakka.

www.floridanativeplants.com


There I was greeted as if I were a royal guest, and given cheerful and helpful advice by one of the owners. She knew her stuff! I was happy to hear from her that there is an increasing movement towards Florida native or Florida friendly trees, plants and flowers.

I made my purchases, and today planted two Mexican Firebushes, (Florida friendly), and a Native Firebush; together with three “Prostrate Porterweeds” - not truly a weed, but a true Florida native.

It all looks a bit stark at the moment, and I’ve yet to spread some environmentally safe mulch which I’ll buy tomorrow.

But in a year or so, the Porterweed will spread, and the Firebushes grow - well more bushy!

And I was planting today not just for me, but for the next generation.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Life with the Brethren (2)

Mr. Ernest Cox was one of the Elders at Chelsea Gospel Hall. You will remember that he was a jobbing builder, and that my Dad had worked for him during World War II.

Ernie Cox hailed from the Devizes, Wiltshire area, as did his wife Bessie (Lancaster) who grew up on a farm there.

Ernie was our Sunday School Superintendent. The 1950’s were days of huge Sunday Schools in Great Britain, and ours was the largest in the area. I do believe that Ernie loved and cared for children, in the best possible way, and longed for them to “give their hearts to Jesus”.

The Sunday School attracted many children from the neighborhood, and the highlight of the year would be the annual “Outing” to Weston-Super-Mare. All the local Sunday Schools would hire coaches (‘buses) for the event, and we would be allowed to take that day off from School.

The Chelsea Gospel Hall Sunday School always had the largest outing - one year we hired 13 coaches (the old-timers still called them “Char-a-bancs” , or “Charas”). We always hired “Princess Mary Coaches” (the name of the company), on the basis that one of their drivers was a member of the Brethren.

(I would guess that the coaches seated 30-35 people - hence our outing would be for some 400 people).

(One year we went by train, a “special” which took us from our local “Stapleton Road Station” to Weston-super-Mare’s “Locking Road Station).

Ernie Cox would board each coach to say a prayer before we set out - delaying the start - much to our frustration. Weston-Super-Mare is only about 22 miles from Bristol, but our outing was a big adventure.


We would long for good weather, for the resort was a miserable place in the rain. We’d also hope for a high tide, for Weston is on the Severn Estuary which has the second largest difference in high and low tides in the world. (The largest is the Bay of Fundy in Canada). If the tide were “out” we’d have to wade through great mud banks to get to the water.

We’d make sand-castles, and always take a ride on the beach donkeys. We’d wander the shops, take a sneak peek at the naughty postcards , and buy some seaside rock to take home. If we were "flush" we would go to "Coffins" for Fish and Chips.

At about 4:00 p.m. we’d all decamp to a local (Anglican) Church Hall, for a tea, with sandwiches, cup cakes, raisin bread and sticky buns. Bessie Cox would preside over this event with all the skill and dignity of “the wife of an Elder”.

Bessie also ran the “Women’s Meeting” on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons. Few women worked outside of the home, and the Gospel Hall would provide a service for them, with lusty singing, a talk (sometimes by the wife of a Missionary), and refreshments.

(I remember being at one of those meetings with Mum, and a young girl with a sweet voice sang “Listen to the voice of Jesus” - from memory. I was so jealous and I knew it! I vowed that I would learn a hymn by heart, and sing it to the women!).

Ernie Cox took a special interest in our family. At one time, in the mid-fifties my parents were threatened with foreclosure as our mortgage from the Woolwich Building Society was in sad arrears.

Ernie spear-headed the raising of a loan to pay the arrears, and to paint the front of our house, from some of the more wealthy Brethren and our home was saved.

Another Elder, Mr. Ronald Spratt (an accountant) managed our family budget until that loan had been retired. Ernie would come to our home every Saturday morning, and Mum would give him a fixed sum which Mr. Spratt would apply to the loan and to the mortgage.

Mum would make a cup of tea for Ernie, which he would slurp as he drank it. He always seemed to have a “dew drop” at the end of his nose, which might drop into the tea at any time. When we learned to be scornful we would say “here comes dewdrop” when the door bell rang on Saturday mornings.

One of the happiest days for Mum and Dad was when the loan and mortgage were finally paid off, and control of family finances returned to them. The Brethren had saved our house, and thus our family, and for that I will ever be grateful. But their management of family finances had become a bit “old hat”.

Ernie Cox was one of the few Brethren to own a car - I seem to remember that it was a Standard 8 - all black and smelling of leather.

One year he and Bessie took us (I think “us” being Mum and Dad, my two older sisters, my twin sister and me) to a farm in Compton Dando, owned by another Plymouth Brother. What an adventure.

Even the name of the village “Compton Dando” was magical to me!

I have fond memories of Ernie Cox. Despite all the narrowness of his religion, he was a good man. Good in a deep sense.

During World War I (The Great War), Ernie Cox was a conscientious objector - a very hard choice in that jingoistic War. He was imprisoned for his conscience, and in prison he sewed mail bags. Who could not respect a man with such a conscience?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Life with the Brethren (1)

So there we were, with our feet under the Brethren table. Playing cards were forbidden, as was dancing, drinking, smoking, going to the pictures (movies) or theatre, Sunday newspapers, Sunday shopping, and owning a television.

We were three-timers on Sundays. In the morning for the Breaking of Bread, in the afternoon for Sunday School, and in the evening for a “Gospel meeting” (preaching to the converted!), or a children’s meeting.

The Breaking of Bread was arranged “Quaker style”. We would sit in silence “waiting on the Holy Spirit”. Any male (in fellowship) could read scripture, announce a hymn, pray extemporaneously, or exhort.


Women and girls were allowed to sing the hymns.

The hymns were sung a cappella from a hymnal which was printed with words only. A brother with a decent voice would be the precentor who, when the hymn was announced would have to strike up a tune from memory.

There would be long silences in a meeting which lasted for about 90 minutes. By a miracle which I cannot explain, always about 20 minutes before the end, the Holy Spirit would inspire a brother to “give thanks for the bread” which would be passed person to person, row by row, each taking and eating a small piece from the common loaf. Then that same brother, or perhaps another, would “give thanks for the wine”, (always fermented - no grape juice for us!), which again would be passed person to person in a common chalice.

It was felt to be “only the proper thing” that a recognized Elder would do this “giving thanks”, but in principle any adult male could, and there were some bold non-Elders who would “feel the leading of the Holy Spirit” to do this. A cause for comment!

It was believed that no more than three brethren should exhort (“let the prophets speak, two or three“ 1 Cor 14:29).

I miss the a-cappella singing (we would create our own rich harmonies); and the silences, but not much else. But when I left the “Peebs” I knew that I must join a Church in which the Eucharist was central. I thank the Brethren for that gift.

The exhortations were not “that much”. Whatever the scripture which was being expounded, the exhorter would inevitably take us to the “substitutionary and atoning death of Jesus”, or to the “Second Coming” - any minute now ya’ know!


The Hebrew Scriptures had no value in and of themselves for they were but prophecies, or “types and shadows” of Christ. For example, a passage from Leviticus was read as if it were really a passage about Christ.

We never read from, or heard about the Beatitudes for in the Brethren scheme of dispensationalism they were written for “the Jews”, as was the Lord’s Prayer. So we never said the Lord’s Prayer. Never.

We would be exhorted by some genuinely pious and godly men. And also by some “crazies”.

One brother had what amounted to an unhealthy obsession with the blood of Christ, and if he took to his feet we knew that we were about to be bathed in gore. And these “spontaneous” exhortations gave opportunity for many axes to be ground.

As 10,11 and 12 year olds, as yet not baptized by immersion we sat “behind the boards”.

We were the bored behind the boards.

Of course we could get to be very silly.

We devised a myth that if any sister wore a red hat, that meant that she was not wearing “knickers” (panties).

We giggled ourselves daft about nothing in particular.

We made whispered and snide remarks about adults we believed to be peculiar (and there were many of them!).

As we boys entered into puberty we pondered with naughtiness the text which was painted on the wall “Behold I come quickly”.

And we were convulsed with laughter when one good brother, rightly discerning that the conjunction “but” made all the difference in the meaning of a New Testament, proclaimed. “And then we come to ‘but’. What a glorious but”.

There are other memories. By the time I was about 14 or 15, now in fellowship and horribly pious, a young woman named Greta was publicly excommunicated as she was pregnant and un-married. It was about that time that I began to wonder “what is this all about?”.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

We should have been Methodists.

We should have been Methodists. Mum and Dad met at Eastville Methodist Church (long since gone), and sang together in the Church Choir. There they were wed and there my older sisters, my twin sister and I were baptised.

When World War II came along Dad longed to serve in the Army. But to his immense disappointment he was given a very low medical grade since he was blind in one eye. So he stayed on the home front, worked as a plumber, and did service as a fire-watcher during the blitz.

He was employed by Mr. Ernest Cox (more about him later), and was once taken to Court and fined as he had left a light on in Mr. Cox’s workshop during the “blackout”.

And, as the lore goes, he, as one of the few fit young men, would go to the Methodist Church every Saturday to fire up the coal boiler for heat, and get there early on Sunday mornings to stoke and re-fuel it.

And he got ticked off at the Church for what he perceived as a lack of gratitude. And stopped attending.

So although I was baptised at Eastville Methodist Church in July 1944, by the time I had firm memories, my parents were not Church-goers.

But “the children must be sent to Sunday School”, and by the time I was 3 or 4 we were attending Chelsea Gospel Hall, a meeting room for the Plymouth Brethren.

Memory is so wonderful, and even as I was writing this I remembered the name of my first Sunday School teacher - Miss Kethro.

In the early fifties these local Plymouth Brethren held a preaching campaign in a tent on Chelsea Road. The evangelist was a Welshman, Mr. Handel Evans, and Mum and Dad were persuaded by my older sisters to attend.

First Mum was “saved” and then Dad. They were re-baptised by immersion.

But in that “Assembly” (as the Brethren named their local Churches), there was a probationary period between baptism and full membership (“being in fellowship” we called it).

Mum took that second step, but Dad never did. He was a heavy smoker and told me once that he would not received Communion as his “lips would besmirch the (common) chalice“).

( But here is the irony. At his funeral in 1974 at a Baptist Church, the service leaders were a Plymouth Brethren Elder (yes Mr. Ernest Cox) , a Baptist Minister and an Anglican Priest! And that Anglican Priest, now the Bishop of Southwell, U.K. brought Communion to my Dad when he was so very sick, and just before he died).

But we were now, for all intents and purposes, Plymouth Brethren.

If I wrote all I know about the Brethren it would have to be in a book.


But for now if you “Google” Plymouth Brethren; or some of the early leaders - Benjamin Wills Newton; John Nelson Darby; S.P. Tregelles (a noted scholar of the Greek New Testament); and George Mueller (or Muller) you’ll get the drift.

c/f also Garrison Keilor who was raised in the Brethren (he calls them the “Sanctified Brethren”)

But for now - about the Plymouth Brethren (or Peebs, which we called ourselves) - a few comments.

1. Local assemblies are led by lay (male) “Elders” who are not elected, but “emerge” from the congregation.

2. Each local Assembly is reckoned to be autonomous.

3. Sunday morning gatherings are always the “Breaking of Bread” (Communion) with a whole loaf and fermented wine, shared from lovely silver patens and chalices.

4. Those who are not “in fellowship” sit at the back of the congregation, separated from the main body. (Shades of a catechumenate!) In my Assembly there were sign boards mounted on the backs of chairs, indicating where those not in fellowship should sit. Hence we called it “sitting behind the boards”.

5. Brethren eschew Creeds.

6. Brethren often believed that they were the “true Church”. “Yes“, they would say, “there are probably true Christians in denominations“, (which we called “The Systems” for they were “systems of men, not true Churches) , “but when they receive the true light of God’s Word they will join us”.

7. “Brethrenism” through J. N. Darby, was the font of that noxious doctrine called “Dispensationalism “ the source of those heretical “Left Behind” books. Many was the Prophetic Conference I attended in my youth.

8. Brethren have/had a significant missionary, evangelism and children’s and youth ministries.

Well, “enough already” for today. Tomorrow I’ll record some plusses and minuses about growing up in the Brethren.

But do please comment if you are reading this stuff! Am I blogging into a vacuum?

Monday, 8 October 2007

Shopping and Trading (2)

So we abandoned the Co-operative Movement (see http://archive.co-op.ac.uk/pioneers.htm ) under the influence of the Plymouth Brethren. About them, more tomorrow.

But local business ruled. Just across the railway bridge was Baylis’s Builders yard and Ironmonger, catering to small jobbing builders with sand, gravel, cement and timber, and to the neighborhood with paints, stains, small tools, nails and screws etc.

“Maurice” (pronounced the English way as “Morris”) was in charge. He was a bit diffident, but was most helpful to me when I decided to re-paper our “middle room” when Mum and Dad were on a holiday.

I had never papered before, but had watched my dad and knew how to start that first sheet with a plumb line. My effort was “not bad” for a first-timer (I am guessing that I was in my late teens or early twenties), and Dad was unusually complimentary when he and Mum returned home.

Across from the Builders Yard was “Rossiters”, the Draper. There one could buy knitting supplies, “notions”, fabrics and paper patterns, needles, thread etc. Mum and my sister Maureen knew how to make a dress or skirt from a pattern which they pinned out on the fabric, and sewed together with our “Singer” treadle operated sewing machine.

The intersection of Devon Road with Bruce Road and Alpine road had four establishments. On one corner “Chelsea Gospel Hall”, home of the Brethren. On another “Evelyns” - the best fish and chip shop in Bristol (of course). On pay day in the summer we might have a treat of Fish and Chips (Mum always wanted haddock), and eat it in our back garden as we listened to a harmless radio “soap opera” - “Meet the Huggetts”. Evelyns was sold and became one of the first Chinese owned "takeaways".

On another corner was “The Kings Arms” an “Off Licence”. “Off Licenses” were allowed to sell beer and spirits for consumption “off the premises”. They also sold sweets and chips and some basic groceries. We would rush there if we heard the rumour that they had “penny bags of crisps” - basically the grease-laden bits left over after frying at the Smith’s Chips Factory in Brislington.

On the last corner was a Grocery store run by Mr. and Mrs. G.

Mr. G was not careful with his hands when pubescent boys were around - so “nuff said”.

Stepney Road was across the street from our home, and there lived Mr. and Mrs. Thorn who dealt in coal. (Their coal-yard was elsewhere). Mr. Thorn and his men would deliver one hundred weight (cwt) sacks of coal - through our house and into the coal bin in the garden.

At the top of Stepney Road was the man who re-charged accumulators, and round the corner from him, on Prospect Place (an ill-named Street as there ever was one, as my brother Martyn said the other day) was “Bedford’s Dairy”.

They delivered milk from electric floats, and I would “help” Pete Bedford. He was the one who took me to the Abattoir. Next to Bedford’s was the post (mail) sorting office for our area. And back at the intersection of Prospect Street with Devon Road was a greengrocery owned by Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox.

Root vegetables and dried peas were the order of the day in winter, and later in the year we could get cabbage, brussels sprouts and other green leafy vegetables. Memories can mislead but I still reckon that the first spring peas (in their pods) were the best ever.

English apples, pears, red black or white currants, together with gooseberries and loganberries would be available in the summer.

Bananas, oranges and grapes were of course imported. When my friend Jeff Davies saw a sign advertising “seedless grapes” he said “that’s silly, how do you know that they are seedless until you eat them”!

Further south on Devon Road was our local ‘pub - “The Whitehall Tavern”. It was “tied” to George’s Bristol Brewery and beer would be delivered in wooden barrels, let down into the cellar with ropes.

There was a sweet shop, (known as a “Confectioners”) nearby, and across the Street was Mrs. Higgins Grocery Shop where we traded post-Co-op. We could run up a weekly “tab”, but when that shop began to “go down” (so to speak) Mum decided to get her groceries from George Matthews’ shop on Whitehall Road.

Mrs. Higgins sent Mum a very sad note, pleading with her not to move to another shop, but it was too late.

Mum had previously been disdainful of George (he was a bit of a ladies’ man, a bit of a poser) but now he became the best thing since sliced bread. He delivered our groceries on Thursdays (or Fridays) on his way home to Westbury-on Trym.

Next to him was a sweet shop, run by a gentle Scottish couple. There we would be sent on Saturday evenings to buy the weekly treat of “slab toffee”, liquorice allsorts, “Everton Mints” (with a chewy inside), “Murray Mints” (too good to hurry mints); sherbet lemons; Fry’s “Crunchie” Bars, and “Turkish Delight”, “Maltesers", and if we were flush, a box of “Dairy Milk” or “Quality Street” or “Cadbury’s Roses” chocolates.

Then there was Les Groves Butchers, and across the Street an Herbalist. (With a window filled with vials of colored water and advertisements for “trusses”).

Along the road was Haines’ Newspaper shop (when I got my first pair of long trousers at about aged 14 or 15 I trotted off to show them to Mrs. Haines). Brother Martyn remembers this store as being owned by “Phil Windmill” who bought it from the Haines’s.

A bit away on Church Road was Moreton’s Butchers where we traded for many years. One of their staff (a family member?) was Plymouth Brethren - a good enough reason to trade there. There I would trot (say aged 10 - a very good little boy) on Saturdays to get eggs, bacon, a roast for Sunday, and maybe “best end of neck of Lamb” for the Saturday lamb stew.

Later my Mum decided that Les Groves was “alright after all” and we got our meat there.

There was also a bit of light industry in our area. You’ve heard about Packers’ Chocolate Factory and the Abbatoir. As well as those the Co-op had a bakery near St. George’s Park, and a furniture factory on Whitehall Road.

Not far away on Victoria Road was a factory which made bra’s and corsets (my sister Maureen worked there for a while), and a cooper’s yard where they made wooden barrels the old fashioned way.

By Chalks Road and Whitehall Rd was a company which made machines for the paper industry "Strachan and Henshaw" That word "Strachan" - hard enough for young children, was pronounced "Strawn". It's an Irish name.

“Down the Netham” on the Feeder Canal was the Butler Company where they processed and heated tar (what a lovely smell), and “St. Anne’s Board Mills” and "Mardon Sons and Hall" which made paper, cigarette cards and cartons for W.D. and H.O. Wills tobacco company.

I am getting there. The Plymouth Brethren” tomorrow.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Shopping and Trading (1)

As I was chatting with my brother Martyn earlier this week, he reminded me of the variety of neighbourhood shops and businesses.

I have already mentioned Ford’s Tripe Factory, Packers’ Chocolate Factory and Bert Lucas the chimney sweep. And there were many more.


But up through the mid-fifties my mother was a great believer in the Cooperative movement.

This “leveling” movement began in Rochdale, Lancashire - it was a way for consumers to own the store so to speak.

When a person joined the Co-op, she or he was given a membership number which was to be used for every transaction. Twice a year members would be given a “dividend” ( e.g. "sixpence on the pound” based on their purchases during the previous six months.)

The idea, a good one, was that dividends would be paid to shoppers, and not to shareholders.

So we had bread and milk delivered each day by the Co-op; we bought furniture and clothing (still rationed) at the Co-op; used the Co-op Departmental Store on Castle Street, (one of only two big stores not demolished in the blitz, the other being the mediocre “British Home Stores“ ); and bought groceries at the Co-op.

A visit to the big Co-op would be an adventure. We would take the single decker 83 ‘bus to Carey’s Lane, and walk up Castle Street. Before the war it had been the downtown shopping area of Bristol, and Mum would regal us with tales of pre-war late night Saturday shopping. (Much later I heard similar tales of shopping on North Street, Pittsfield).

Castle Street was a wilderness of bombed out shops, sometimes with the engraved entrance stone still present - “Boots the Chemist”.

The Co-op was a magical place with huge lifts (elevators) with their shiny brass operating handles; x-ray machines to make sure that new shoes fitted well; the vacuum tubes through which payments would be made to an anonymous cashier; and the barbers’ shop where the old men would get their hair singed after it had been cut.

Just up the street was the “News Theatre” devoted of course to newsreels. Mum took us there one day to see some footage of the Silver Jubilee (I think the 25th wedding anniversary of King George VI and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - a.k.a. The Queen Mother).

And there was the dreadful Government owned “British Restaurant” ( a war time institution to provide food for those whose homes had been bombed) - where one could buy awful meals at cheap prices.

Our local Co-op grocery store was across the street from my first school. There, men in white aprons would attend to us as we bought eggs, bacon (sliced there and then), butter cut off a block, tinned goods, flour, sugar, tea and the like (all still rationed “don’t forget the ration book!”). There payment would be made not through vacuum tubes, but with a spring loaded carrier which would travel overhead to the cashier’s office.

One of the store men was named Percy, and he would cut bits of cheese from a big wheel, using a wire, and give some to my sisters and to me, thus breaking the rationing rules.

Mum stopped using the Greenbank Road Co-op and began to use the one on Whitehall Road. Many years later I asked her why, and she told me that Percy had wanted to have an affair with her. Hence the free cheese!

When Mum joined the Plymouth Brethren we no longer traded at the Co-op. “Why”?

Well, to be a Co-op customer you needed a members’ number, and by gosh, that number might be related to the apocalypse. (See Revelation 13:16/17 - believe it or not, that’s what some Brethren believed).

So then we began to use local traders, and of that, more tomorrow.