by Eric R. Moss
including My Personal Memories, by Doris Warner
A graphic and often moving account of life between the wars in a poor family that can trace its ancestors back to the seventeenth century. Dad works on the railway, the children struggle against economic and social odds, and young Eric's ambitions to become a schoolteacher are cruelly defeated when his family cannot afford the training college fees.
Eric Moss has a detailed memory for cottage life of the times, including raising (and slaughtering) the pig, watching and helping the village blacksmith, bringing in the crops, emptying the cottage closet and fertilising the garden with the product, and a description of how the vaults at the school got emptied at dead of night! He tells of ferreting, bird trapping, the importance of the allotment, kitchens before electricity, Mr Benfield's milk lorry, the doings of Slasher Moss, the coming of the crystal set, the art of ringing pigs, family Christmases, the village pubs and pub games and much besides.
We re-live the author's schooldays and share the games and mischievous pranks of the children.
The book is rich in anecdote and full of the tensions of life in a small community.
Doris Warner won first prize in a county competition for her Memories, which include both world wars and their impact on village life in Ascott. Doris became village postmistress, and like Eric Moss she recalls the building of the Tiddy Hall and the enthusiasm for folk song and country dancing. Her grandmother was one of the Ascott martyrs, and Doris wrote a musical to celebrate the centenary of their imprisonment, Over the Hills to Glory.
Both authors convey the decline of village life and the loss of community after the second world war as rural jobs disappeared and newcomers moved into the village, bringing very different expectations.
The book is illustrated with many historic photographs.
£8 pbk 144pp 978-1-902279-07-7