The Particular: David Lister’s story – PART007

Episode 7 of ‘The Particular‘ features the story of Dr. David Lister.

Dr. Lister will be well known to many people locally in Yateley, having been a GP in the town for 25 years, but has now been retired for 14 years.

He takes the opportunity to share experiences which span at least three continents, having previously spent time after university in southern Africa (where he once had breakfast with a young Robert Mugabe!); having been a medical missionary in India; and worked as surgeon in Sweden and Denmark, before returning to the UK to become a GP in the 1980s.

An over-riding thread to emerge from Dr. Lister’s reflections are his concern for everyone to be able recognise what love really is, and to be able to find it!

“When you are in love, things get transformed. And this is one of the main guiding lights of my life, that you have to be in love, and you can sort of cultivate this way of looking at life…..” he enthuses. “If you are in love, everything can be lovely.”

Always religious, he reflects on how many of his actions earlier in his life were often based on a sense of what he ‘ought’ to do, rather than through conviction – and looking back on over 70 years of life experience, he takes in time as a young child at boarding school; a student at Cambridge University; a young man helping out at a boys club in Bermondsey, South London (by about 1957); time spent at a mission station in Harare in what is now Zimbabwe after having worked in a goldmine outside Johannesburg as what he called a ‘medical dogsbody’; and a life-changing, short romantic interlude in Paris, which didn’t quite end as he’d hoped, but left it’s mark on him to this very day.

Next stop was work in India, after pondering what to do next, when the experience in Paris knocked him for six.

“I was still thinking missionary work, and I met an Indian chap who said he could get me a job in India in return for accompanying him to drive a jeep.  You had these jeeps [Austin Champs] they had Rolls Royce engines and military bodies. The engines were so good that the bodies fell apart before the engine did. They were very reliable.”

It worked, because he ended up working at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, in India.  As well as sharing the particular aspects of life here, Dr. Lister also shares vivid insights of life as a missionary doctor in the Eastern Ghats area of India too.

After meeting his wife, he went on to work as a surgeon in Denmark, where she was from.   After four years, the couple returned to India to complete a hospital project.

After a stint in Sweden, and his return to the UK, David Lister shares how he was lucky enough to eventually be able to start his own practice in Yateley in the early 1980s, where the local Family Practitioner Committee deemed that the mushrooming population merited a new practice.  From humble premises, upstairs in Heath Cottage on the Reading Road (in what what was then a dental practice run by George Hilder), the practice grew, before expanding into what has now become the Monteagle Surgery, next to Waitrose.

David’s story paints a vivid picture, full of particular insights of life as missionary doctor, and reflections on the meaning of a life.  Thank you to him for taking the time to share his story with us!

David is now a member of the committee organising the festival to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Kingsley, which will be in June 2019.  From 1844, Kingsley was rector of Eversley, in Hampshire, and was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard when he died in 1875.

Credit: Thank you to The Kingsley at Eversley for allowing us to conduct this recording within their hotel, which is based at the house originally built for Charles Kinglsey’s daughter rose.

The Particular: Our story – Episode 006

Episode 6 of The Particular is an opportunity for us to explain a little of our story – what we are trying to achieve with the podcast, and to put a call out for listeners to get in touch if they know anyone, whether a member of their family, a friend, or neighbour (or themselves!), who might be interested in sharing their story.

A collage featuring our first five guests: Wendy (left); John (top centre); Blanche (centre); Brendan (top right) and Ruby (bottom right).

Producer Paul Simpson explains a little of what gave him the original idea behind the show, starting with listening to the stories of friends and families underneath his Nan’s kitchen table when he was a child.  He goes on to give credit to the book, ‘England in Particular‘ for its celebration of ‘the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive’ – the little things which go towards giving our culture and lives meaning, but have increasingly disappeared as our towns and villages become homogenised.

By capturing the testimony of people of people who lived through many of society’s changes in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and on to the present day in their own voices, The Particular podcast hopes to provide more of a ringside seat for them for a wider audience.

The podcast is particularly looking for a) people talking about the little things – how life has changed, but which they may have taken for granted; and b) bigger, more head turning stories which might fascinate a wider audience, but which have gone unshared.  We take a re-cap over the first five episodes, looking at elements of the stories Wendy, Blanche, Ruby, John and Brendan have shared with us.

If you know someone who might be interested in sharing their story with is, we would love to listen to them.  Whether it’s yourself – or whether it’s a member of your family, a friend, or a neighbour, why not have a word, and if they are interested, contact Paul via SoundVaultHQ@gmail.com .

All previous episodes of The Particular podcast can be found by clicking here.

Credit: Sound effects – www.freesfx.co.uk 

The Particular: John’s story – PART 005

Episode 5 of The Particular features John’s story.  John Carter was born in the 1930s in Blackwater.  His family heralds from Eversley, and he has spent most of his life living in Yateley, Hampshire.

John in Malaya.
John with fellow servicemen in Malaya.

His story includes National Service in the 1950s, with time serving in Malaya.

John’s National Service papers.

His time in the army saw him become a fully trained HGV driver with some distinction, which meant on his return to civilian life, he quickly progressed from a role as a ‘driver’s mate’, to a long career in what was called the Milk Marketing Board. with its distinctive blue tankers.  Wound up in 1994, for a long time, the producer-led body regulated the production and distribution of milk in the UK.

John and Daphne get invited to a meal in London for his retirement from the Milk Marketing Board.
John’s daughter Jenny (3rd from left, back), and wife Daphne (holding 55 card, front, centre-right), working at Robert Greig.

He talks about life driving the lorries and collecting the milk churns from the farms, and the high regard with which he held his employers.  He also talks about another employer later on in his life, the well loved local independent supermarket chain, Robert Greig, who had a branch at what is now Aldi at Blackwater.

John’s “wonderful girls” – his six daughters.

John talks with much passion about his family.  Having received a card from The Queen on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary this year, John recalls how he first met his wife, Daphne.  He also talks with affection about his “wonderful girls” – his six daughters, Jackie, Jen, Pat, Jo, Sue and Marion.

‘Thank you’ letter from the club for John’s service.

He also recalls his time spent volunteering for Aldershot Town Football Club over the decades, and his support for the club.

John’s Mum, on the site of what is now Cranford Park Primary School.
John’s uncle heading out for The Cricketers.

As much as the specific episodes in his life, John’s story is about the little things, and the values that have come to shape his life.  John’s is a truly particular story, of dedicated service to family, community, company, club, and country.

The Particular: Wendy’s story – PART004

Episode 4 of The Particular is the story of Wendy Shaw, nee Claw.  Wendy spent much of her childhood in Minley, Hampshire, before moving just up the road to Yateley.  Her immediate family also lived in Blackwater.

A young Wendy Shaw, without a care in the world, with her brother in the grounds of Minley Manor.

Wendy begins by telling listeners how she lived in what was believed to be Colonel Blood’s house at Minley WarrenColonel Blood is the only person to have successfully liberated the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, in 1671.  He didn’t evade capture though, although he was miraculously granted a pardon by King Charles II.  His mistress, who is believed to have lived in the cottage that is now the Crown and Cushion pub, was not so lucky.  In a panic when she heard that Blood had been captured, she is said to have drowned herself in Hawley Lake, fearing arrest herself.  If only she had waited a little longer, life could have been so very different.  Her ghost is now said to haunt the outside of the pub for which the episode is the inspiration of its name.

Sixties-style Wendy.

Like many of our subjects, Wendy shares insights of what post-WWII life was like.  Despite not being well-off, Wendy chooses to focus on the glamour of the 1960s.  At night, she ran the Old Manor Club, at Blackwater.  She tells of the many famous bands that used to stop off there as part of their tours, and how it used to work.  And she remembers the ‘bubble-car’ her husband Ray used to drive.

Wendy (right) with her Mum and brother.

She documents more of the regular social changes through the decades – like the regular holiday to ‘Butlins‘, when they used to leave the family dog with ‘Camberley Kate‘, who would walk it up with her other charges to Camberley Station, to wave them off.

Wendy Shaw, nee Claw – school photo. First it was a private school at Cove, then Yateley Village School, then Hartley Wintney.

Having been lucky enough to benefit from private education at a school in Cove when she was very young and living at Minley, she documents the very big change when she moved to Yateley, and moved to the village state school – with only a bucket for a toilet!

Wendy, with her own children, plus her Mum.

Wendy leaves the most powerful of her testimony to her last two stories.  She reveals how her Nan was knocked-down off her bicycle by two army officers on the A30, when cycling between her two cleaning jobs at The Swan in Blackwater, and The Ely, on Yateley Common.  Worse than that, getting out of their car, and discovering she was still alive, they scooped her ‘up’ off the road, and threw her into a ditch to die.  The pair were up before the Old Bailey, but got off of a murder charge, to a lesser one of manslaughter – apparently only to commit a similar offence in years to come.

Wendy in the 1970s, with her Mum.

Finally, she shares the story of discovering how her father was not the same man she had come to know as Dad, or who was the father of her brother and sister (and her Mum’s husband), but was in fact one of the Canadian Air Force stationed at RAF Hartford Bridge (now Blackbushe) during WWII – a familiar story for a small group of people born in Yateley around that time.  Her Mum’s husband was a prisoner of war.  Time intervened.  Once he returned, inevitably, the truth would out, although for a very short time, Wendy was put into a home, until her Mum knew how her husband would react.  Wendy has never felt the urge to track him or his family down – but thanks to a chance meeting with someone in the street in Yateley years later, she knows his name is Cliff.

A ‘must-listen’ if you live in Yateley or Minley – and a fascinating story even if you don’t!  It’s got it all – bluebell woods; 60’s glamour; whirlwind romance; music; fashion; murder; historical locations – and a wartime baby.

The Particular: Blanche’s Story – PART003

Blanche Rogers of Yateley is 74 – and her story in Episode 3 of ‘The Particular’ documents much of the social changes in the UK across the 20th and 21st century.

She begins with powerful testimony about the death of her father when she was just two years old, falling into a threshing machine in one of the fields around Yateley – an accident unlikely to happen today with much tighter health and safety at work.

“He was walking along the side of it in hobnailed boots and he slipped into the mechanism of it and it trapped him by the legs.  By the time they got up Yateley [Cottage] Hospital to get the equipment to go down there and cut his legs off, one from his knee, and one from his ankle, and got him to Reading Hospital, well he died within quarter of an hour of being in there.”

After a brief period living with her Nan in Sandhurst, she returned to live in Yateley for the rest of her life at the age of four years old, starting out like many families immediately after the war in one of the many Nissen huts abandoned by the RAF on Yateley Common, and the area that was eventually to become the Manor Park Estate.

My own Nan, Joyce Holland, with her sister Meg outside one of the very Nissen huts Blanche talks about living in after WWII in Yateley.

She shares what it was like to live in one of the ‘old tin huts’ once home to the air force personnel, and the thrill of being one of the first families to move into the new wave of post-war council housing that was to replace them.

“I couldn’t wait to run the water and have a bath, because the other time [the Nissen huts] you had to do your water, and put it into an old tin bath and just sit in front of the fire and have your bath, because otherwise it used to be too cold.”

My own Nan’s Dad in front of another one of the Nissen huts in Yateley that Blanche discusses living in before the arrival of council housing.

She shares some of the ‘particular’ parts of life that have changed over that time – like the workplace, transport, and education.

For example, she shares how, for many of her age when young, work meant working in an electronics factory in Camberley.  With little in the shape of public transport, it meant the start of a relationship with a bicycle that lives to this day – Blanche can still be seen to this day, on her bike around the village.

Blanche and her trusty bike, as she leaves the interview, on one of those streets which provided council housing as the Nissen huts were cleared.

“When we first left school and went to work, we had to bike to Camberley every day and back because the buses weren’t as regular as they are now anyway, but for the amount of money you earnt, you couldn’t afford to go on the buses all the time.”

One of her other jobs was in the ‘rags factory’ on Rosemary Lane, Blackwater, where her job was to sort the rags out into different piles – woollies in one pile, cottons in another and so on.

Yateley Village Hall – back then, the village school.

A startling revelation is how she says she was treated at school.

“I didn’t like it at all.  I didn’t get into trouble, but I used to get thrashed so many times by the headmaster at Yateley…… Gaffer Gibbs he was.  I hated him. Everyone else was alright, mostly lady teachers and that, they were fine. He was something else.  And Peter [Blanche’s brother], the same. He’d thrash him for the least little thing.  If he was in a bad mood, we’d suffer.  And I think it was because we didn’t have a Dad.”

A short account from Blanche which covers plenty of terrain – even managing to take in Bob Dylan’s appearance at Blackbushe Airport in front of 200,000 for a special concert in 1978.

The Particular: Brendan’s story – PART002

Brendan McEnhill is in his 80s, but can still be found playing the violin and clarinet regularly for residents of care homes in Farnham, Surrey and the surrounding area.

“Great Balls of Fire”

Brendan is a natural storyteller, with an eventful life to draw upon and share in this second episode of ‘The Particular’ podcast.

Brendan, as part of ‘The Kingsmen’ in the 60s.

“We shared the stage in the Castle Ballroom, Banbridge with Jerry Lee Lewis.  We shared the stage of the Boom Boom Room in Belfast with Bill Haley and the Comets,” he enthuses, about some of his earlier music performances, together with his brother.  “They were so nice these people.  They helped us carry our gear in!”

Brendan reveals that he first took up music at the age of seven, and was on the BBC by the age of eleven!

“When I was 11, I got a call that I could go to the BBC in Belfast, to play a tune on Children’s Hour.  You used to have children from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but it was very rare for a boy from Donegal to get on the BBC.”

Brendan playing the clarinet at a birthday tea.

Now part of Sound Vault, Brendan can add another chapter to his story – appearing on a podcast!

The Particular: Ruby’s story – PART001

‘The Particular’ is about listening to the past, today.  Unleashing the commonplace, wisdom, memories, insights and secrets of a special generation, by giving them a podcast in which they can share their stories.

In episode one, Ruby Bassett, of Yateley, Hampshire shares the story of how she was abandoned by her Mum at the age of seven years old.

“She just gave me a note one day. She said, ‘Take your dollies’ pram, and take this note down to Granny’. So I said ‘Ok’. Seven years old, you don’t think nothing.  It was a long, long walk.  By the time I got down there, she read it, and she grabbed my hand and we raced all the way back up to the village. But it was too late. My Mum had got on a bus and gone. So, she’d got that all planned out.”

Ruby with ‘that’ beloved bike.

She does go on to share how they were eventually reunited years later – and other happy memories, such as the thrill of receiving a bike as a Christmas present during what were otherwise very austere times

“In those days, we never got presents as such.  Maybe just a little sock with an orange and things like that in.  But I remember this one particular Christmas, I came down and there was a bike in the front room – and it was for me!”

Ruby (far right) with her Mum, working at the 90th birthday celebrations for former PM Harold Macmillan.

Ruby reveals that she was part of the catering team for former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s 90th Birthday celebrations.