Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Conduct Very Satisfactory


I like the casual pose of the three pals in this picture. It was taken in 1935 when my Dad was 13, or nearly 14 years old. He’s the one on the right with his right arm resting on his friend’s shoulder. I’ve no idea who the other two are, but the one in the middle looks a little older, perhaps the other boy’s big brother. I only came by this picture recently as there are very few pictures of Dad as a youngster. Some of my blog readers will remember him as the Brylcreemed youngster in Boy on a Bicycle, the window-smashing footballer in Let’s Play a Game and in his Boys Brigade uniform in Something for the Boys.  Dad died in late November 2012 and I am still finding out things about him that I never knew. I have a couple of his old school reports from about this time and they are in quite a fragile state but the one from that Summer Term of 1935, tells me something more about the boy in the photograph.

I know that he had moved from Nottingham to Doncaster with his family in 1933, when my grandfather, a railway worker, transferred to the repair shops there. This would have been Dad’s final (terminal) report at the school before moving on to the world of work.


He was a good attendee and received praise from his master for making good progress and his conduct and industry were 'very satisfactory’. What I can also deduce is that Dad was in a small-sized class of 31 (his previous one had 52 pupils) and that he was a reasonable, above average scholar. His composition, spelling and written and spoken English were good; there was no separate comment for handwriting then, which is a shame as Dad had the most beautiful copperplate handwriting right to the end of his life. What we now call Humanities were clearly not his strong subjects, but he was good at Geometry and Music and shone at Arts and Crafts. All this accords with the father I knew, who went on from there to further study Maths, English, Draughtsmanship and Mechanical Engineering at Evening College and trained with Castell’s Window Dressers, whilst playing his drum kit in his spare time. Longtime readers will remember that Dad was a very good hobby artist and  was still painting up until a year or so before his death.

The teacher summed Dad up well, his conduct was exemplary; he was a gentleman, and he worked ceaselessly throughout his life to make sure that his family were well cared for. He wasn’t always appreciated by his employers and he never rose to the top. He was once told he didn’t have 'enough fire in his belly'; he was far too nice. He didn’t toady and creep and was really quite gullible, often taking people at face value. He didn’t learn the secret handshake and he didn’t marry the boss’s daughter. What he did have was lots of friends who appreciated his friendship and his many kindnesses. Even today people still speak of him as ‘such a lovely man’ which gives my mother great comfort. I bet his two pals in the picture knew him as a good friend as well, just look at the body language.

Our prompt this week was what led me to this picture of my Dad. Three pals together with one casually resting his hand on another’s shoulder. However, I don’t think their whisky-fuelled behaviour was ‘very satisfactory’ and they all look a little worse for wear. Join other contributors to Sepia Saturday to read more reports.


17 comments:

  1. That's a fine photograph of your dad, Nell. His face reflects the kindness you speak of. It seems that his was a life well lived, with a loving family and good friends to prove it.

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  2. Your Dad, even at 13 or 14, looks like quite the fellow. Having many friends who value your friendship & think & speak well of you is far & away the highest goal a person should ever hope to attain!

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  3. Your father looked older than fourteen there, but I think everyone did back then. Very commendable!

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  4. Your dad sounds like a very nice and multi-talented guy. I also think he looks older in the photo.

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  5. This photo of three pals reminded me of a photo of my uncle Hugh Cleage and two of his pals that I shared some time ago. Looking at photographs of generations past as youth, always makes me think about the life that was to come that they had no way to know about.

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  6. How great to not only have a photo of your dad with his chums, but the record of his academic achievements. It takes the man back to when he was still a developing individual, and you get to know a side of him that perhaps you didn't know as his child.

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  7. This is more of that "Permanent Record" we were warned about in school, but I don't remember hearing anything about the whole world getting to read it! :-)

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    1. I’m flattered Mike but the stats for my blog don’t indicate that the whole world will be visiting! Dad was clearly proud of this report as it was the only one he’d saved intact, and I’m sure he would have enjoyed sharing his good conduct and industry.

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  8. I love that era of men's casual clothes with the pleated pants and wide-collared shirts. The pose is perfect -- just so cool, so Hollywood leading man-ish. It must be gratifying reading your dad's school report and learning that he was the same good man throughout his life.

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  9. Ah, a wonderful ramble back into your dad's past. You are so lucky to have these things to tie things together and fill in the blanks. Good post.

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  10. Great photo and isn't it precious having copies of school reports?

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  11. Like Mike and his Permanent Record I do worry at times about the way we invade our ancestors' privacy and publish things that they would never have expected to go public I know I do it every week. I just hope no-one does that to me ! Your father sounds like a lovelky man.

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  12. Your dad sounds absolutely lovely! And Mike's comment is interesting, but don't we all do this to ourselves on Facebook anyhow?

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  13. I agree Jenny, and as Dad is beyond caring and Mum will just enjoy reading it, I’m comfortable with it. It was a good report after all :)

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  14. Based on the date for the photo, your Dad must have been around the same age as my elder brother. Somehow I don;t think his reports would have been as good as he was a bit of a rough diamond. Nevertheless he is remembered with fondness too.

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  15. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. You've written a grand tribute to him here, and I'll bet those who mourn him are more genuine in their affections than if he'd married the boss's daughter or joined the secret societies.

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