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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Sunday, 5 January 2014
My father, in a mood of reminiscence, told us of an incident which, he said, happened when he was about eight. (He seemed fairly sure about the date, but I would say he would more probably be ten or twelve; anyhow he still wore pinafores.) At the time, being highly precocious, he taught in a sort of night school and earned 2d. a night for so doing. One day he was fetched out of day-school by an older boy, who had just begun to work in the office of Sneyd Colliery. This boy had embezzled certain small sums - my father did not know this till afterwards - and was itching to spend. They took train to Stone and there bought a lop-eared rabbit. Returning to Burslem they walked with a third boy (George Wigley) to Mow Cop, and bought there a donkey for 12s. The Sneyd boy drove the donkey home, while father and Wigley carried the lop-eared rabbit in a basket.
Father reached home about midnight. My grandmother had sent the Town Crier round to 'cry' him. By a lie he managed to escape immediate consequences. But on the third day my grandfather entered his bedroom carrying a pair of braces. In the meantime the whole adventure had revealed itself. My grandfather set himself specially against the lying. First of all he knelt down and prayed, then he thrashed father with the braces till neither of them could very well stand. My father remembers how his mother afterwards, with tears, displayed his bruised back for the commiseration of a neighbour. At that time my father was accustomed daily to strip everything but his trousers and wash in the yard at the rear of the house. The Bennetts then lived in Pitt Street.
Additionally for January 5th., see 'Commencing Clayhanger' -
This morning at 9.45 I began writing "Clayhanger". I felt less nervous and self-conscious than usual in beginning a book. And never before have I made one-quarter so many preliminary notes and investigations. I went out for a little recess, and at 1.30 I had done 1,000 words, which was very good for a first day.