excerpt from 'Childhood: an autobiography of a boy from 1889-1906' pp. 24-27 (375 words)

excerpt from 'Childhood: an autobiography of a boy from 1889-1906' pp. 24-27 (375 words)

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Childhood: an autobiography of a boy from 1889-1906

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[Edward Stewart-Humphries’ father insisted his son no longer attend school after the family re-located to Cornwall]


Although I cannot recall any details of the events which induced and enabled my mother to transfer our home, an invalid husband [following a stroke] and an eleven year old son from [Plymouth] […] to Railway Terrace, near the village of St. Clear, four miles from Liskeard, Cornwall, it is now clear to me that she possessed great courage, determination, and organising ability to accomplish this upheaval so successfully. […]


I did not belong to the village of St. Clear, but as I was probably the only lad available, I got the job [of handy-lad at the vicarage]. There is no doubt about the oddness of the jobs I had to do […] 




My favourite job was the tolling of the tenor bell to call the villagers to matins each morning. I found this an easy task as the tenor bell was comparatively light and in no time I was able to produce the regular ding, ding, ding, for a few minutes without difficulty. I soon discovered that the rope next to the tenor bell rope required a much heavier check to cause it to ring, but I thought it would be a fine accomplishment if I could produce an occasional Ding, Dong, instead of the perpetual ding, ding, ding. For several days I practised pulling and checking on the two ropes alternately, but with no success. Each day I became more venturesome by swinging higher and higher on the heavier rope before checking it. At long last, after countless failures, I allowed myself to be swung upwards until my head almost reached the floor of the belfry above before checking its upward swing, to be eventually rewarded by the sound of one deep, sonorous dong, but what pleased me even more was the fact that I managed to return to ground level in time to produce a ding on the tenor bell. This fine achievement had, happily, not passed unnoticed by the Vicar who, to my delight, angrily demanded to know who had been in the church with me. I proudly replied that “no one had been with me”, whereupon be became more angry and loudly called me “a young liar”. 

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excerpt from 'Childhood: an autobiography of a boy from 1889-1906' pp. 24-27 (375 words)


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