Portrait of a Parish - Page 25

Reminiscences of Terry Love - 1940's/1950's

"I remember it was sunny, my mother pushing a pram loaded with odds and ends that she and my grandmother had salvaged from the rubble. Odd articles of clothing and household bits and pieces, all of it covered with a thick layer of dust. I learned since, that they had no idea where they were going. Anywhere out of the city, away from the bombs. We ended up in Summer Lane, the steep banks thick with spring flowers which I wanted to pick, but my mother pulled me along fearful that even here the bombers might find us. We passed the church, there were people in the street, a lot of people, some sitting on the pavement, others on the steps of the Village Hall. A man came over and spoke to my mother. He was a fat man with a bald head with two large bumps above his forehead, he was dressed in black with a thick gold watch chain looped through his waistcoat. I watched him closely from behind my mother's skirt, fascinated by the bumps. Like many others we were homeless and badly in need of sleep. He told us we were welcome to stay ain the Village Hall and we gratefully accepted the offer. The hall was almost full as mattresses were laid side by side around the walls and we were allotted a space and given tea and a rock cake. To this day, i remember the smooth pink skin of his face and his wonderful kind voice, my first encounter with Percy Ewark Warrington, a man who was to become a much loved friend to my family.

We stayed for almost a week, then by a stroke of luck, Percy being a confirmed bachelor, required a housekeeper. He approached my grandmother on the subject suggesting that in exchange for looking after his domestic needs, he would let us have two rooms in the vicarage. Within six months we moved to Waterhouse which had been lent to the RAF at one stage, and were given the whole run of the top floor. Percy, we were to learn, besides his calling also owned land and property in the area, much of it untenanted, and empty house then, as now, were a target for squatters, so my mother did a period of house-sitting. I had a wonderful time and ran wild in the extensive grounds and made a daily visit to the crocodile. Well, I though it was a crocodile. Below Waterhouse, next to the cottages known as Watergate, was a low wall overlooking the Midford Brook and under the surface, beside a sand bank, was a sunken log split at one end - for all the world like the reptile's gaping jaws. I begged an empty two pound treacle tin and into it went all the bits of kitchen waste I could scrounge from the chicken run plus a good dollop of mud to weight it down. It then became my daily offering to the 'water god'. Pinching food from those wretched chickens would have got me a thick ear had I been caught.

Terry Love: page 25 - page 26 - page 27 - page 28

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