A dull and dripping morning. A wren investigates the top of the beech hedge.
The heron is a regular morning visitor, perching halfway up one of the trees on a quiet bend of the beck.
At this time of year we often have several blackbirds in the garden, most of them male. There’s an undercurrent of rivalry as two males strut around the lawn. Both have yellow bills but neither has developed a yellow eye-ring as yet.
There’s often a blackbird in the golden hornet feasting on the prolific crop of yellow crab apples.
It’s been our best year so far for Howgate Wonder cooking apples but unfortunately we haven’t had the time to do much with them. The blackbirds are enjoying the odd windfall but I must harvest the remaining apples before they get pecked and spoilt.
While researching the life of composer William Baines for a college project in 1972, I was lucky to be able to interview a number of his contemporaries including a friend of the family, Nora Naylor.
Mrs Naylor who lived at 45 Cooperative Street, Horbury gave me this photograph of the Baines family, sent as Christmas card c. 1912.
It looks to me as if William has written the Christmas message as I’m sure that I recognise that handwriting from his early manuscripts and possibly the ‘To Nora Radley’ (her maiden name) in pencil.
Born in 1908, Nora told me that she remembered William and his tragically early death on 6 November 1922. Just as she was telling me this, her aunt, then aged 96 walked in and said ‘I remember when his parents were married.’
In the 1911 census, Nora’s aunt, then 35, is listed as a yarn reeler at a worsted manufacturer. Nora’s father, a widower aged 34, was an iron turner at the railway wagon works.
I didn’t keep meticulous records but I’m pretty sure that this photograph of Alice and George William was also given to me by Nora. It might have been taken at a roadside or railway cutting somewhere near Horbury – or perhaps on an excursion to the coast?
In the 1911 census the Baines family were living at 16 Church Street, Horbury, since demolished. He described his occupation as ‘Grocer and Music Teacher’. Considering their modest circumstances, I was surprised that the family employed a domestic servant; Annie Elizabeth Bradbury, 17, who was born at New Whittington, Derbyshire.
William evidently learnt his musical skills from his father but I get the impression that his creative side owed a lot to his mum.
From these photographs you can also see that William inherited a certain sense of style from his father. In the earlier photograph George William reminds me of Pagget’s illustrations of Doctor Watson in the Strand Magazine.