Linda and I in the back garden of David our next-door neighbour (centre).
Vine Cottage, Sutton-cum-Lound, near Retford, home of my dad’s parents, Jane (‘Ginny’)
and Robert Bell.
My dad, Douglas Bell on the beach at Filey
Mum and her friend Jean.
THESE PAPERBACKS, illustrated with hundreds of pen and ink drawings, were my first
introduction to history, a subject my mum was always keen on.
When Cissie Quirke, a friend of the family (right), died I had a feeling, even though
I was only 4 at the time, that I’d lost a link with the past. I remember wishing
I’d asked her about the olden days, when Anglo Saxon warriors swaggered through the
streets of Wakefield, as I could picture them from the cover illustration of the
The Snows of Yesteryear
I’ve been scanning some more box camera photographs from original negatives for a
little Christmas album for my mum and, as always, I’m fascinated to see scenes from
my early childhood popping up on the screen in such detail.
It brings back dimly remembered scenes of life on a suburban street in the baby boom
years after World War II. There are period details like my dad’s outfit for a day
on the beach. Those shiny shoes (which I’ve mentioned before in this diary) weren’t
unusual as beachwear. In a northern play, later a film, (was it ‘Come Laughing Home’
or ‘The Family Way’, I can’t remember) the husband remembers a weekend at Blackpool.
He and his friend are standing by the sea when the surf surges in leaving tiny, sparkling
droplets of water on their shiny shoes.
Overcome with the sudden revelation of beauty in the moment, he turns to his friend
and says ‘Isn’t life wonderful?!’
Life on Mars
I was evidently something of a deep thinker even in those days as in several of the
photographs while the other children are having a ball, doing the sort of active
things that children do at that age, there’s me looking apprehensive and perhaps
a bit out of place - as if I’m a visitor from another planet, an observer rather
than a full participant.
Looking at one photograph of me, my mum’s friend Jean said ‘That boy looks as if
he’s written a thesis!’