|Of Cabbages ...
Before I started at Corsham all applicants had to send in a portfolio of stuff and there was also an entrance test. One of the jobs was to draw a cabbage cut in half. No problem. I went out into the garden and chopped myself a nice looking cabbage and cut it in half with a big kitchen knife. Did the drawing and sent it in. At the interview remarks were made about my cabbage, and especially about the knife which I had included in the drawing. Derek Pope said it showed a keen sense of Visual Communication, the knife, cutting and that! And that’s how I got into Graphics, which was always where I wanted to go to in the first place!
The first time I went to Corsham was for the official entrance exam. We stayed in a house in the High Street (number 40 I think) and several of us were soon on speaking terms. I especially remember Rick Dewar who was always known for his amusing stories and bawdy ditties. There was a girl there, a bit older than us, who was the supervisor at 40 High Street while we were there. Her name was Margaret Graham a dark haired girl with a pink-and-white complexion and glasses. I still remember how she blushed when she came in to the room where we were trying to watch the telly. Something was wrong with the aerial and she came in to try and fix it. She was wearing a very short skirt and had to bend down to get at the telly. There was a deafening silence as we all eyed her legs (and she had a very nice pair). She must have felt our eyes on her! It turned out that my Margrét knew Margaret Graham through some friends of hers where she lived at Shepton Mallett when she was in part-time classes in Bath. Margaret is listed as Art Librarian in a prospectus of the time.
Of course we soon got to know the neighbours at Neston. The Hemmingses lived next door in the cottage attached to ours. The two men, brothers, were plumbers and lived there with their old mother. Jeff, the elder one, was rather a shy fellow and dreaded having to be called out to Stonar whenever the water system there needed attention. He was embarrassed at being giggled at by the girls, which always happened as he was a muscular sort of chap.
Old Mrs. Hemmings was a kind old soul who spoke a very antique version of Saxon English. I remember that one day she came round and asked, “Be ye wanten’ sum bean-stikken?” Dad had been putting out some runner beans and she was enquiring as to whether he needed some poles for the runners! It took me quite some time to understand the local language (it was more than just a dialect – different words that were not to be found in any dictionary) and I often had to get people to repeat things, and sometimes more often than once. There was an old man up at Bakers Corner called Rob Bolton who did the stone walling for the Neston estate. Must have been in his eighties but he set off every morning on his bike with his bag of tools on the handlebars. He was extraordinarily difficult to understand but I eventually got to learn what he was talking about and it turned out that he had been a gunner on a battleship in the First World War. Old Charlie Barnes lived up there too and had many a tale to tell, but it took a lot of listening to catch all the details.