9.30pm ~ Mary popped down with a generous helping of most delicious apple pie ~ and a little pot of clotted cream ~ quite scrumptious and now I'm too bloated to do any more up here ~ time to flop on sofa with the Kindle. Jeannie came this morning, and David popped in, and then Beverley came in and had coffee with us ~ and it was a gorgeous spring day ~ all the lights on in Crystal's house this late on a Sunday ~ Simon is a slave driver it seems, and Saul Black is no chicken, and when he came to cut my toes nails the other day, he was not feeling too good ~ don't want to lose him !
The following section has not been checked or edited but should get round to it tomorrow.
It is clean sheets day ~ thank goodness Sue will be here to help me (not that I contribute much) ~ changing the sheets has been my biggest challenge for months, especially changing the king sized duvet cover ~ I am so fortunate in my friends and helpers.
Monday afternoon : with Rossini in the background ~ an old friend from our Winchester days has asked me to type up a copy of his FUNERAL sheet but his handwriting is so small and spidery I have told him I can't tackle it before the cataract op ~ hope he doesn't kick the bucket in the meantime ! I'd have to send his scrappy hand written version down to his Bishop !!
Now then ~ The Published works of Gavin and Anne Proctor
Among family papers, my sister Mary recently discovered the typescript of a thriller by “Anne and George Proctor”, written in around 1938 : Provincial Poison ~ a really excellent murder mystery set in a chemist’s shop in a north country town and obviously based on Dad’s years at Boots in Brighouse. Mary retyped it into the computer and had copies printed for all of us. This is an indication of their shared ambition to make a living from writing.
After leaving his job n Sweden Daddy wrote about a dozen English text books for the Swedish schools ~ English Poetry, English Drama, the English Language etc and now with seven children, the royalties he earned in Sweden must have made a big difference. There was also a children’s book in the Young Traveller series : The Young Traveller in Sweden and a novel for primary children, Adventure in England. I remember him reading us a chapter every evening as he was working on it.
Around 1954/55 he was sponsored by the Swedish Government to go out and study the churches of Gothland ~ he was teaching again by then and so was able to spend two summer holidays out there, filling seven exercise books with his neat notes and drawings of interesting architectural features. Then the money ran out and the project was scrapped, but all of us knew that these seven notebooks were there, waiting to find a publisher.
A couple of years back our brother Bill contacted someone in the Gothland Mueums or whatever, and the result is that Dad’s precious notebooks are now on display over there, and an article has appeared in one of their glossy academic publications about George L Proctor and his work ~ we all received English language copies ~ how pleased he would be, if only he knew that all the work and research that he put into this project were not in vain.
As I already told you, his passion for Iceland led him to go on a Magnus Magnusson holiday there ~ he and Douglas Gawn, their GP and life long friend, went together. Having taught himself Icelandic, Dad had already translated the Iceland Sagas, editing and re-arranging the stories to make them more comprehensible. Penguin showed an interest in this but again it came to nothing. A writer’s life is filled with rejection and disappointment !!
Mother’s family were all wonderfully creative ~ Mum always had painting and sketching things around and if anyone was sitting talking to her she’d invariably do a quick sketch, a quick portrait of them. Pressed flower cards were another of her ploys, and embroidery particularly fine cross stitch in the Swedish vernacular style ~ I have several pieces of her work, beautiful !
She was passionate about her Scottish forebears and would sit in the evening producing wonderful illustrated Family Trees for all her descendents, going back to 1150 or thereabouts, and not simply knowing the names of her ancestors, but their life stories ~ a minister here, a poet there, a great uncle murdered in the Klondyke, a bad lot hanged in the 1700s etc. I have to admit we all got rather fed up with these stories though now I realise that not everyone can trace their family so far back, and in such dramatic detail !
She was a staunch Christian and for a time she was representing Bristol on the Church Assembly. And regulary (while I was in the Vth and VIth form) she gave a talk on Lift Up Your Hearts on the radio ~ fore runner of “Thought for Today” ~ I'm afraid that I found this extremely embarrassing as the teachers would stop me in the corridor to say they had heard that morning’s talk and how inspiring it was !! "Your wonderful mother !"
She was also a leading Marriage Guidance speaker and went round the Bristol Sixth Forms giving talks on Family Planning ~ this as the mother of six and well into her forties expecting number seven at any moment !! You can imagine . . . !!!
Later the radio talks were published as a collection. And she wrote a couple more Marriage Guidance books, one of which, dealing with contraception, to her great delight, was banned by the Catholic Church !
She was regularly getting articles published in the Bristol papers. And for several years she wrote a page for The Sign ~ an eight-page supplement to be inserted into parish magazines all over the country. People would send in recipes, and there was one famous occasion when she published the recipe for making tinned pineapple go a bit further (this was still in the days of rationing) by mixing it with rhubarb. This led to nationwide alarm as the mixture was discovered to be poisonous ~ I believe a warning had to be given out on the radio ! Never a dull moment !
In her seventies she wrote her memory of her years at Christ’s Hospital between the ages of 9 and eighteen, and illustrated with her own naive pictures. "Blue Skirts into Blue Stockings" Ian Allen, 1981.
She had always wanted to work out an ending for Charles Dickens unfinished novel Edwin Drood and after Daddy died she set to work on this project, sending a few pages up to me every few days to be typed ~ this went on for a couple of years and eventually she did finish the book and we sent it off to publishers though as always without anyone showing any interest. Many famous writers have produced their own endings to this infuriatingly unfinished book (I believe Dickens actually died at his desk a few chapters from the end) but to my mind it is a deeply boring novel, no matter WHO completed it !!
So you can see what incredible creative parents we had, and all this all this longside their fulltime jobs, a houseful of children, and I'm sorry to say Granny Proctor disaproving of just about everything.
I suspect that Edwin Drood helped her to recover from Daddy’s death and enabled her to learn how to live alone ~ something she had never experienced in her whole life !
All in all, it was a pretty creative and literary household that we grew up in, and several of my siblings are writers themselves. Looking back (and sometimes comparing my teenage years with others') I have to admit it might have been easier to have a normal mother ~ slightly less creative and with more time to spend with her children. But then which of us is ever happy with their parents ?
There ~ I’ve gone on far too long and this will probably bore you rigid, but once I start I can’t stop