Saturday, September 27, 2003

Royal Engineers - Careers - Trades: "Surveyor - is a competent land and hydrographic surveyor, able to produce accurate contoured survey plans of land and inshore waters, as a basis for the design of roads and other structures.

They are road engineers capable of designing horizontal and vertical alignments and drainage schemes, and computing earthwork and construction material quantities.
In summary, they collect and collate data, provide advice, produce designs and control line and level during the reconnaissance, design and construction phases of an engineering project. Required to qualify as a Driver Licence Group B E. "

I was first a field engineer Sapper Watkins trade B3 and got posted as Musician Watkins and took A3, A2 and A1 trades exams to qualify for better pay, and promotion.

Joining the army was brilliant
Aged 16 - 17 years the majority of employments offer Apprentice Entry.
Aged 17 - 27 years you may apply for Adult Entry.

Royal Engineers - Careers - Soldier: "
All Sappers are trained in first as Soldiers, second as Combat Engineers, third as Tradesmen and finally they have the opportunity to train as Specialist Soldiers."

I got paid to study and travel and left to a civilian career as a Qualified School teacher, under the old rules, but today the last would require one more years study for a diploma in education.
As a writer one's memories are a most important source for creating fiction and writing an email about my map seaches to a friend brought this up :-

I logged on to the danish Royal Library and searched and found this;

KLÆDEBO-KVARTER. PLAN No. 60. Juli 1886 / Carré-plan af Kjøbenhavn udført 1886 af V. F. A. Berggreen ; Emil Olsens Lithogr. Institut. - [S.l.] : [C. E. C. Gad], [1886].

1 kort : kolor. litografi : 470 X 594 mm.

KBK Klædebo-Kvarter, København enk. lok 1954-223/3

System nummer [002050544]

I have asked them what it will cost to get a copy

and then I will ask them to scan it and put it on the net
(should be free)

Then I searched Berggreen

Kjöbenhavn med nærmeste Omegen / ved V. F. A. Berggreen, Landinspecteur

Kjöbenhavn Frederiksberg : Udgivet af Kapitajn Stadskonduktör Krack under Medvirkning af Landinspektörerne V. F. A. Berggreen, C. Meldal, C. F. V. Broock og Brandfuldmægtig Hj. Hyller. - [S.l.] : Generalstabens topografiske Afdeling, 1892.

1 kort : farvetryk : 505 X 468 mm, falset

. - Index 8 s. påklæbet kortet

KBK K-0-1892/1 x-1961/125

System nummer [002041577]

A Landinspecteur is Danish for a surveyer

I was partially trained as a map maker and surveyer, with theodolite, level and chain, at Lougborough College, where I studied Civil Engineering in 1954 -6 before becoming a military musician.

I have a talent for visualisation and have loved maps since I was 10 or 11

The nineteenth century Danish draftsmanship is simply superb
BTW all UK maps also started off as military maps

Funny I have never thought of a career as a map maker until now !!!
I was in the Royal Engineers as a recruit and applied got a job in the RE Staff band Aldershot where I played the tenor trombone and was PAID to learn the bassoon.

Biut if not I would have been a good military map maker

(More on maps another day - mind maps too )

Saturday, September 20, 2003

The Percival Library
a two page pdf
but do look at the illustration on the second page
which was on the front page of the One Hundred and Sixth Annual Report of the
Old Cliftonian Society of Clifton-College

This library was one of the many compensations for being sent away to boarding school.

Percival Library: "The Library is named after the first Headmaster, John Percival, who paid for its construction himself! Little altered since then it has recently undergone major refurbishment to improve lighting, heating and comfort, as well as linking the main Library with the College's extensive ICT facilities. It is home to some 30,000 books (with about 400 added each year) and over 66 PC stations and 130 network points. This has been achieved in a modern and imaginative way without losing any of the architectural splendour and scholarly atmosphere of the building. "

Clifton College

The College Tour: "The College enjoys a magnificent position on the edge of Clifton village, next door to Bristol's splendid Zoo, and on the fringe of public parkland - The Downs. Brunel's famous Clifton Suspension Bridge is close by and is the route over the river to our extensive playing fields at Beggar Bush."

A Jewish home in an English Public School: "Polack's House at Clifton College, Bristol is now the only boarding facility for Jewish pupils in Europe.

To found a new school in the 19th century required a Charter, and a Charter required an Act of Parliament. By chance, at the same time, new laws had enabled Jews to stand for Parliament without having to undergo baptism, as had been the case when Benjamin Disraeli took his seat.

Sir Lionel Cohen took up the opportunity to become an MP, and at once began to look for ways that Jews might attend English schools. When Cohen met Percival, the founder of Clifton College, the deal was struck; the one needed an MP to get him his Charter, the other needed a Headmaster to get him access for Jews.

From the outset, a synagogue, kosher food, shabat arrangements and Jewish Studies gave the Jewish community what it needed, which was not a segregated life but a fully integrated one, able to participate in every aspect of daily life at Clifton, just as they still do today.

In May 2003, Polack's celebrated its 125th anniversary, a remarkable achievement, and particularly so for a House as unique as Polack's House at Clifton College."

- which led to a very simple arrangement - we studied scripture on Saturday mornings when the Polacks' boys were excused school, but they studied on sunday mornings when we were singing our heads off in chapel, or so we believed.

About one boy in 10 was Jewish, and my teenage opinion of them was that they were individually brilliant at sport but their house teams did not do so well as could be expected, luckily for the rest of us who took a pride in our teamwork amd house spirit.
By house - I mean boarding house one of seven large victorian buildings each of which are home to about 70 boys, two masters and a matron and her assistants.

I have attended three schools, a CAT now a university, two music schools, a university and all sorts of lectures, classes and private lessons, . . . . . really I am the perpetual student type or into life long learner
just now I am taking exams at . .. . and their server is down.

More later

Friday, September 19, 2003

The URL below is a medical one so not for the squeamish.

What Happens During Circumcision? (PlastiBell): "The rim of tissue will become necrotic (dead) and separate with " -- in my case the bandage during a warm bath a few days later under the care of my loving mother.

But I was given a full anesthetic being about 4 or 5 years of age. One morning I had stood up in my drop sided cot and my mother gave me my potty, and all that came out was a few drops of blood "mummy , I can't pee" I called out, and so I was whisked off to Solihull hospital in an ambulance, and "put to sleep" probably with ether or laughing gas.

Foreskin: "This website contains close-up photographs of the normal, natural, intact adult male foreskin.
If you don't want to see these photographs, or if you are under 18 and don't have your parents' permission to see these photographs, or if you live somewhere where it's illegal for you to see these photographs, clicking here will take you out of this site."

My view is what you don't have you never miss.
and I do not regard myself as mutilated.

Doctors Opposing Circumcision: BUT as a ritual it is barbaric and of our primitive past from before recorded history.

ADC -- eLetters for Gatrad et al., 86 (2) 76-78: "Excision of the prepuce by circumcision inherently degrades the child's physiological functions. Although the Crown Prosecution Service has not prosecuted anyone under this act for the performance of a circumcision on a child or young person, there can be no assurance that such a prosecution will not occur in the future, especially since knowledge of the inherent injury of circumcision is steadily increasing and becoming better known to the public. "

In USA circumsion is still a nice little earner for the medical trade.

United Kingdom: Circumcision Incidence: "Following the publication of Gairdner's influential report on the lack of necessity of neonatal circumcision in 19491, the British National Health Service (NHS) stopped payments for non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision in 1950, and the incidence of male non-therapeutic (routine) neonatal circumcision declined sharply thereafter. "

Google Search: phimosis

new word to me. I use Google both as a dictionary and a spell checker

Google Search: circumsiced

Google said :- Did you mean: circumcised

which is why this blog follows the one below SPELL CHECKING ;_)

Preputial Plasty: A Good Alternative to Circumcision: "Treatment for the complications of a tight nonretractile foreskin in British boys is almost exclusively circumcision"

U. S. Circumcision Statistics

I started writng about my memories of childhood and being a patient at Solihull hospital

Of being circumcised, and a veruka cauterised, I put on a marionette show in about 1949 for the old people in the wing where my Aunty Kitty worked, and where a broken leg or hip was often a slow death fro the old.

But MSIE 6 crashed again and it was lost

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Friday, September 12, 2003

One of the earliest toys I can remember was a second hand metal pedal car, with a big radiator a bit like an Austin seven, Google Search: austin 7

My father repainted it yellow and black and it was difficult to pedal on the grass lawn so I did not really get much fun out of it. The front drive was paved with orangy yellow sticky sand and pebbles and so was not much better.

All toys were second hand or home made then, because all the toy factories were used for the War Effort

About 1941

Learning on the move - Moving people - nmm18a too old about 1925 ish

BrmmBrmm Classic Network too modern !!!

AUSTIN WORKS Pedal Cars about 1948 and made in BRUM

Austin J40 & Pathfinder Spares Site the underneath view shows the sort of mechanism

not this one Gallery: Image 4 of 65 but close to it.


Public Record Office | Education | Snapshots | The Home Front


the vegetables are arranged in a TRUG

we had an allotment but that is another story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

From: "Hugh Watkins"
Newsgroups: uk.local.birmingham
Subject: Re: Earthquake
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 00:46:55 -0000
Lines: 65

"Colin Steadman" wrote in message
> Is it me, or was that an Earthquake just now [1am]?
> Colin

Yes the flats rocked in B37

a tremor rather than a quake

BRMB said up to Walsall also

the whole house moved and swung backwards and forwards about twice
seventh floor and scary
my heart beat very fast

I got half dressed - too much imagination -- was this house going to do a Ronan Point ??

No gas cookers here

It felt as if the house had been hit by a truck so looked out of thje windows on 3 sides and got a neighbour to look out the fourth

we are close to the airport flight path so I looked for flames in the sky
quiet in all directions
no blue blink either

Fordbridge parish is in Solihull, sandwiched betweeen Tile Cross and Chelmsley Wood along Bosworth Drive

no sleep for an hour
and I have run out of milk for my coffee

A glass of bovril maybe or some very old camille tea
(long past its use by date)
so switched from Radio 3 to BRMB who also reported it

In the first panic I dialed 999 very busy gave up before getting through to the police

Saw the disaster of nine eleven on television as it happened

so now I am in mourning

Never forget, but we must forgive.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Alison Mary Watkins Memorial Archive

Is a proposed name for this family collection.

My mother was a horder and kept maybe 3000 or 4000 letters, photographs, financial documents etc.
and they are all here in this flat waiting to be sorted and catalogued.

She was born on the 16 May 1908 at Filton Glos. and died at Heartlands Hospital on the 22 December 1999.
She worked for 35 years as a Birmingham teacher.

Alison was one of 7 siblings from a Bristol master tailor’s family who were descended from tailors, court dressmakers and wasitcoat makers
(the Lapham family includes an uncle, a GWR engine driver William Ball born 1830, mariners Philip Evans River Avon , Bristol who retired and kept a pub)

Alison was educated et the C of E primary school Filton, then studied at Colston Girls School Bristol (school reports and magazines survive ) and on to Brighton Teachers Training college from 1926 to 1928

Alison took the first job offered after she passd her final exams, which was with City of Bham LEA She told me she was nearly penniless after two years of study.

She met another old Colstonian, whi was married to a banker, in News Street Birmingham and was invited to her home where she was introduced to my father.

In Birmingham she lived in digs and the young pair spent the school holidays apart at their respective family homes and wrote many letters.

She married ?1933 my father Alfred Henry Watkins (called David) who was the accountant with the National Provincial Bank, Horsefair,Birmingham (He was born 17 August 1907 Usk Monmouthshire ie Gwent)

They lived in Sutton Coldfield in "the Cottage" and I was born 1936.

AHW was appointed as accountant at NP Solihull High Street Branch which was then on the corner of Station road.

They moved and Alison lived at 230 Widney Lane Solihull B91 3JY from 1938 until her death,but her husband was lost at sea when HMS Somali sank in 1942

I was sent away to prep school in 1944 and then to Clifton College Bristol and she kept my many letters home and school reports.

AMW went back to supply teaching , and then she was appointed deputy head of Dixon Road Primary School with responsibility for the infants - reception class.

She was a member of West Midlands bridge club for 30 years and a hobby investor worth £300 000 circa when she died

The transcription below of one of her letters has been emailed to my cousins and children.

Note >>> I discussed reading these letters with Alison during her last illness - in order to get to know my father (died 1942) and promised I would wait until after her death.

{I f you wish to get the closer to the original layout, please reduce the width of the window}

<----width of window----------->

My father Alfred Watkins jnr - whom Alison nicknamed David, - was a pipe smoker and saved these 17 letters and one photo in a tobacco pouch so I call them the tobacco pouch letters

(postmark - Birmingham 9.45PM 6 SEP 1933
stamp - 1 1/2 Pence King George Vth (THREE HALFPENCE))

<----width of window----------->

A. H. Watkins Esq

<----width of window----------->

{Tobacco Pouch letter
no. 1 of 17}

<----width of window----------->

7th hour
of the
of the

(formatted to the right "7th hour" level with "willow tree"}

Under the delicate willow tree,
In the setting sun's last gleams,
This letter I dedicated to thee, Although a little late it seems!

A poetic address -- but I cannot emulate Orlando & write stanza after stanza. "God be praised", said he.

Disconsolate I stood alone at


the bus stop last night -- & knowing my sore need of comfort they sent me a brand new bus from Handsworth Wood so I had a comforted journey! They are lovely vehicles, the public is becoming a pampered ninny! It was exceedingly fresh as I walked up C. E?, road at 1130 only in my little gingham! So I needed the hot milk & dared Bob's most fearsome growls to warm it! And so to bed.
This morning your letter, your photographs, a delightful


combination arrived. I took them all to school, repacked photos & had to go to the General P.O. with them being Wednesday I do hope they arrive safely & meet with approval. I enclose her letter as I thought it most charming. So you shall keep the proofs for some time. A pity they could not have been used to clinch a deal at H.O. Monday ! ! ! ! But I guessed it all

<------------/ /---------------->

was quite satisfactory. I guessed too, you'd never stay in London long in this heat. Yes isn’t Bond Street exotically priced? I thought your Variety performance an awful washout & disappointment. Why on earth didn't you see something more restricted to London only. You [k]now - tch, tch.
[ ]

It was such a fair morning that we (two classes 93 kids + 2 teachers) sallied forth to the common for a nature walk. Delicious[!]


We browsed under oak trees & collected acorns, we ransacked the hedges for every miserable little black berry that was there! They kept bringing me one isolated in the middle of small grimy paws which I firmly but sweetly refused! Not wishing for Appendicitis plus their germs! We returned clasping berries of all kinds -- an odd buttercup & a couple of dandelions and a leaf or two!

And so back to the ordinary routine. The days are really flying. I hope they continue


to do so right up to October. I've finished reading "Frost in May" it's a curious book -- giving one very full glimpses of convent education & the effect of R.Cism on various types of girls. And it ends rather like "Madchen in Uniform," (emotionally that is) with one of the chief characters[,] a girl of 14, tragically upset & disgraced, & sent from the convent. -- Into thin air apparently. I should think the RC.s would censor the book severely.


The nun's methods with children, I could hardly call modern, nor yet good and wise from a psychological standpoint. They are crafty to get what they want out of a child. And full of petty rewards & penalties, which is a sign of their fundamental weakness. I don't really think it would have interested you however. So I should begin next on Arnot Robertsen's. How priceless about your Australian aunt - she sounds

<------------/ /---------------->

most enthusiastic about your lesser half !

Oh -- a nice greeting waited me for tea tonight, a gentle reminder of my debt to the Croft Club! So I now pay -- alas, they might have forgotten me!

Present dreams, & swim in the morning early, & get Mary Rennie to go with you. (Oh tell her I made all enquires & the post had been permanently filled & the connection of private pupils bought by a man!! ) Night. Night
sleep lots, eat lots
& enjoy tout la temps.

[editorial insertion]
/page number/

I speculate that she planned to marry in October 1933??? or be reunited in Birmingham???

MS Arial 10 pt

My mother and father tended to spend summers and holidays separately at their parents' homes.

Mary was one of my father’s best friend's, Peter Rennie's, sister. - of the auctioneer family of Usk,

Swimming would be in the river Usk - probably north of Usk where there is a flood plain and big meander, where the river is deeper and slower,
and a little sandy beach where I nearly drowned when paddling out of my depth, I saw the greenness of the water as it closed over my head, and debated with myself whether to cry for help, my little mind decided it was more important to breathe, so I repeatedly jumped off the sandy bottom and grabbed a breath each time my face came above the surface of the water - then big cheerful Mr Philips grabbed me.

We were out picnicking with the Phillips’s, who were next door neighbours to "The Haven" - Monmouth Road, Usk, Monmouthshire (now Gwent) - Solicitor Alfred Snr. and Blanche Watkins's retirement bungalow. Their other neighbours were "The Princes".

Sunday, September 07, 2003

My other two blogs


My father was in a reserved occupation as a bank accountant with the National Provincial Bank in Solihull, but he felt he had to volunteer as he was rugby playing fit and felt an old man could do his job.

He lost three uncles in WWI and his brother in law was to die in a Japanese pow camp in 1945.

I am also in touch with one of the crew of U-703 who was alive last year
who had been transfered before she was lost with all hands September 1944.
1942 Casualties of H.M.S. SOMALI:

"WATKINS, Ordinary Seaman, ALFRED HENRY, P/JX 329792. H.M.S. Somali. Royal Navy. 24th September 1942. Panel66,Column1. "

It was his first and only voyage, he had been selected for officer training but needed to get some sea experience first my mother told me.

But by the summer of 1942 I would never see him again because, after HMS Somali was torpedoed by U-703 but did not sink, he was one of fifty volunteers who went back on board as a towing party to try and get the ship back to Scotland to be repaired. An arctic storm blew up and the ship folded in half like a pocket knife and sank. Only one person survived, the Captain who was pulled out of the water unconscious.
But from my father, Alfred Henry Watkins *August 17, 1907 + September 24, 1942, I learned about parenting, the joy of my first clockwork toy tin-plate toy train set running on a circular track at Christmas on the dining room axminster carpet.
I remember that it needed a station and my feeling of love and wonder as I watched him making one, a halt, from scrap wood in the garage and as he nailed it together and painted it black.

My mother never forgave the Germans until her death, still a war widow, in December 22 1999
She loved classical music but hated Wagner.

As a bassoon player, because I inherited the family money, which my father should have had, in 1957 when I was 21; I could afford to buy a Heckel fagot made in Biebrich am Rhein which I visited to collect the instrument from the factory.

Other visits to Germany were to many units of the British army of occupation as a musician in the Royal Engineers Staff Band Aldershot on tour staying in old barracks visiting Gasthaus and drinking beer with ex soldiers.

In Berlin we stayed at Spandau Barracks and from the roof tried to look over the wall into the prison to see Rudolf Hess. In a local pub I met a torpedoe man from a U-boat who showed me his discharge papers signed by Doenitz. I just thought to myself what if ?

Old soldiers get on well with young soldiers and one Gasthus owner showed us his photograph of himself in uniform – how desperate Germany must have been I thought, to put such boys into their army, as he was about 15 and his uniform was too big.

But it was in Osnabruk where, although by now an atheist, I fulfilled the Christian duty of forgiveness. I went into a pissoir and saw the usual drawings on the wall and realised that the Germans were people like any of us and not to be blamed anymore.

We were brought up to hate the Germans and “missing in action” is the worst fate for a family because hope only dies slowly.

One day my mother laid the breakfast table for three
and I asked “Why do you do that Mummy ? We are only two.”

Shakespeare consoled us:-

Full fathom five thy father lies;
    Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
    Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them - ding-dong, bell.”
U-Boot - Poesie und Gedichte der U-Boot-Maenner: "U-703 ist Ende September 1944 im Nordmeer verschollen."
I have few memories of my father. He read The Times to three year old me at breakfast “There is going to be food rationing,” and I thought "what is that?"
On January 8th., 1940 the day after my fourth birthday it began.

Instinctively fast growing small children see food and love as the most important things in their lives.


"It was on 8 January, 1940 (four months after the war started), that food rationing came into force. To start with, the rations were (per person per week):

Butter or lard: 4 ounces (113 grams)
Sugar: 12 ounces (340 grams)
Raw bacon or Ham: 4 ounces
Two Eggs
Cooked bacon or Ham: 3.5 ounces

Meat rationing started 11 March, 1940."

from a BBC web page

BBC - h2g2 - World War Two Rationing in Britain:

"There were different kinds of ration books. The most common was the buff-coloured one. These were issued to adults and school-age children."

No sweets, no ice-cream, no bananas so for pleasure we only had local fruit and wild blackberries.

My father Alfred Henry Watkins was born August 17, 1907 at Usk Monmouthshire, and died September 24, 1942. He was reported missing in action at sea when HMS Somali sank in an arctic storm after torpedo damage by U-703.

I was born January 7, 1936 Sutton Coldfield. Warwickshire and lived at 230 Widney Lane, Solihull during the war.

Hugh Watkins