The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

All Present and Correct

Had some concerned messages and even phone calls wondering where Goldenoldenlady has got to of late.  Thought I'd better add a bulletin to reassure you all.

I've been a bit poorly.  Not only is the SAD deepening (now sleeping roughly 12 hours out of every 24) but I've had sinusitis to boot. "To boot" is an apt phrase, as at its worse it felt as though someone's foot had found my left cheek and given it a good hard prod with a steel toe-cap.  Left facial cheek, that is.  Though a good kick up the arse wouldn't have gone amiss lately.  I am so sluggish, de-motivated and passive.  I have consoled myself that a) The Husband heroically doesn't mind as he wholly accepts that this annual slump in my energy levels isn't anything I choose b) not going out or logging on means I'm not spending any money, so my bank account is gradually filling up in time for Christmas and c) I've finished the crochet cot blanket in good time for the baby shower next month.

As you can imagine, living such a dull, cocooned, somnambulant life doesn't offer me much to write about.  Which is why I've spared my handful of loyal followers the ordeal of having to read any Goldenoldenlady witterage for the past few days. I've been waiting for life to pick up so I could find that little kernel of  comedy in our daily existence that would lend itself to being described and commented on at length. Meanwhile I've been busy with some genealogical research again.  The Husband has brought from his mother's house an album of old family photos from the 1930s, covering his father's last year at Malvern College where he was a sporty type (here he is on the left having helped win the Gym Cup for his house)

There are photos from the trip he took to Canada and the USA after leaving school, and from his first year at Cambridge where he read medicine.  I've pulled off a bit of a coup with one photo which was taken on 11 November 1938 (his nineteenth birthday).

It shows four undergraduates in fancy dress, from left to right there is a trampy-looking chap with a staff and a loose bundle of straw, two fellows in a cow costume (The Husband's dad is the rear end) and another chap in a white coat and natty argyle socks carrying a stethoscope, smoking a pipe.  The last character is captioned as  "Hooky".  I am guessing this is one of the tutors or lecturers in medicine at the time.

I looked at the photo and the usual genealogical questions crowded my brain.

Who? is taken care of

D J Morton   F T Falkener    The Husband's dad   and   J Hutchinson

four (probably long-dead) medical students

Why?  It could be just undergraduate high jinks, but they are carrying collecting tins so it most probably was a charity event.  If they were only messing about they would have been in all likelihood rusticated (suspended, temporarily sent down) because of the answer to


11 November 1938, which was Armistice Day, exactly twenty years after the end of the Great War (at that point a second world war seemed likely but not certain, so the 1914-18 war hadn't acquired the First before it), a highly significant and solemn day. Only a charity event involving such silliness would have been tolerated (assuming it was!) in daylight hours on Armistice Day.  It was also The Husband's dad's nineteenth birthday, coincidentally, and they are medical students so maybe beer had been partaken of at some point.

Where? was more of a problem.  Cambridge obviously.  But which college?  The Husband's family doesn't know which college his dad went to, obviously it wasn't greatly talked about.  Cool!  Not ones for boasting, then.

So I set about doing some photo research, looking mostly at architectural styles. I found a hugely useful website of illustrated walks around Cambridge which had photos of all the main college gates. The gate in our photo is very similar to the main gate of Gonville and Caius, and being Romanesque in style it is quite unusual in Cambridge where Gothic and Tudor predominates. Perhaps it was a side or back gate?  I laughingly suggested to The Husband we make a day trip there in the warmer weather and have a stroll around to find it.  He agreed it would be fun.  Then I realised I could have a virtual stroll using the little yellow man icon on Google maps.  I set him down in the street outside Caius (pronounced Keys, the co-founder Mr Keys adopted a Latin spelling of his name) and as we sauntered around the corner THERE it was, the exact gate outside which my late father-in-law had capered about being the arse-end of a cow on his 19th birthday in 1938.

Why did it matter so much to me to find the very spot where the photo was taken?  It's the historical detective in me, I suppose.  And I don't like to be beat.  I like to marshall my facts, have them all present and correct, and I believe that the oddest most minuscule facts can be found out, even over decades of intervening time, if one knows how to look and just keeps at it.  A liberal arts degree has taught me how to look, to research, the rest is just caring enough to persevere.  And I do care, especially about The Husband, and by extension his dad who had died a good few years before the two of us met, but "would have loved [me]", so all the remaining family says.

Now I just have to find out if it was true he had a Boxing Blue.  An approach to the Cambridge University Amateur Boxing Club might yield something there. I'm off to find the contact details - wish me luck!


  1. Triffic. Ain't Google fun? So interesting to be able to find all this stuff online. Enjoying reading it, Marion.

  2. Have been in touch with The Husband's dad's old school - Malvern College. Their records show he went to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and his twin brother went to Brasenose College, Oxford to read Law.

    His twin joined the RAF at the outbreak of the war. He was lost in a bombing raid over Germany on 11 November 1940, exactly two years after the above Cambridge photo was taken, on the twins' 21st birthday.

    Both boys are in the school photo above, The Husband's dad standing on the left and his brother sitting on the chair in the middle.