IN THE BEGINNING

I remember very little of my early years.  I was born in Dorking, Surrey, on 28 August 1932.  I was the second child born to Ethel Frances and Edward Robert Hygate.  Their eldest child, Doris Willette was born on 4 September 1924, so I had a “grown up” sister to keep an eye on me.

From all accounts I was a little horror as a child (although ‘little’ is not the adjective my mother would have used to describe me at my birth as I ‘weighed in’ at a little over ten pounds).  We lived at No. 28.  Rothes Road, Dorking and I have no real recollection of the house or of its surroundings.

I believe that family life was fairly relaxed, with annual holidays with friends and relatives.  These holidays were spent mainly at seaside resorts, with Bognor Regis being a family favourite.  This casual, relaxed existence continued until a family tragedy occurred.  In 1935 my sister died of peritonitis, in very unfortunate circumstances when she was only ten years old.  I think that the relationship between mum and dad was never the same after Doris’s death.  Mum  blamed dad for Doris’s death and I suppose that there was some  justification for her feelings.  Dad was a ‘disciple’ of Bernar McFadden (inasmuch as he had a whole set of ‘psuedo-medical tomes’ written by McFadden to which he constantly referred – even after the death of Doris).  McFadden had a philosophy that suggested that the body, with the assistance of certain foodstuffs, exercises and compresses, etc., could cure itself of any known complaints.  Unfortunately his ‘cure’ for appendicitis was to use cold compresses and consequently when Doris was diagnosed with appendicitis she was treated with cold compresses instead of being hospitalised.  The obvious outcome was that the appendix burst and Doris died shortly afterwards in hospital.  Mum was devastated.  Doris was as near to perfection as anyone could come in mum’s eyes (and I have reason to believe that dad idolised her too).  Probably my own destructive, noisy and uncooperative nature would have helped to enhance Doris’s status within my parent’s eyes.  From the time Doris died, until I eventually left home, to get married, I recall being constantly aware of a lot of ‘Doris memorabilia’ – some tracts that she painted at Sunday school held pride of place in my bedroom.  Mum had kept dolls, a doll’s house, school books, clothes, etc.  I am sure that she would have constructed a ‘shrine’ had she been given the opportunity.

In the meantime I continued to be my usual horrible self (or at least that is what I was told).  Certain unsavoury stories were recounted about this loud-mouthed (apparently the neighbours had nick-named me ‘Coke hammer” because of my loud and raucous voice) bad-tempered kid.  One such story tells of how mum found me with her polished copper kettles happily filling them from the water flowing down the gutter outside 28 Rothes Road after a rainstorm.  Mum collected her kettles, gave me a tongue-lashing and a healthy whack for my misdemeanours.  I remained outside, feet in the gutter bawling (possibly more from having had the kettles removed than from the smacking), when a concerned clergyman came along and made the mistake of leaning over and asking me what was the matter?  His reward for his concern?  This ill-humoured, bawling brat (now in the middle of a full scale tantrum) struck out at him  and sent his expensive, immaculate Homburg flying off into the gutter.  I am informed that his comments as he retrieved his hat and continued on his way were unlikely to have been used in any of his future sermons.

These stories attributed to my nature during my early years I pass on as hearsay, although I have acquired enough comments from cousins and other relatives over the years to convince me that ‘I was not nice to know’!  I am sure that others will come to mind as I continue recounting what I remember of my life.

When I was three we moved from Surrey to Devon.  At this young age I had no idea what had prompted the move, although I suspect that dad having been promoted to the position of Quarry Manager for the company for which he worked.  In hindsight I am sure that the move was very timely.  Mum would have needed to get away from Rothes Road so that her tragic memories (which she was almost relishing) would have the opportunity to be lost in new experiences.  And our new surroundings in the little village of Woodbury in South Devon  provided plenty of new experiences, not the least of which was the lifestyle.

We initially boarded with a farming couple, Mr and Mrs Ted Ingleheart and Ted’s elderly mother.  The Inglehearts owned a thatched cottage on the outskirts of the village of Woodbury.  Woodbury was a small village with a general stores, a post office, a cafe, a souvenir and oddments shop, an old stone church and a village green.  It was a little off the main road between Exmouth and Exeter, although about half of the Devon General buses running between Exmouth and Exeter used to deviate to pick up custom from Woodbury.  The cottage that the Inglehearts owned would better be described as being in the country, rather than being on the outskirts of Woodbury, as there was only one other house in the lane and no houses within a mile.  There was no running water, water was obtained by using a large wrought iron hand pump in a tiled pump/store room.  The only toilet was outside (a lot of fun in winter; and don’t forget to take a bucket of water with you!).  There was no gas or electricity, just oil lamps.  Cooking was done on a massive old coal range (which Gran Ingleheart used to black-lead at least twice a week).  The ‘pump room’ and the large kitchen had brown tiled floors and they always seemed to be wet.

There was a large yard at the back of the cottage where Ted Ingleheart used to keep his ferrets, a stack of rotting cider apples (he used to make his own rough cider) and some small farm implements.  There was a large vegetable garden beside the cottage, running parallel to the country lane leading between the village and the common.  At the end of the vegetable garden was a large hen run and chicken coop, holding about three dozen birds.  Fruit, vegetables and eggs were plentiful during the growing (and laying seasons).  Ted’s brother and his wife lived in a more modern house just beyond the garden and hen run and Ted used to keep his brother supplied with produce from his own small holding.  Ted’s brother and his wife had a son about a year older than me, called Robin.  Ted’s brother owned the paddocks (although we used to call them fields) on the other side of the lane and he was a dairy farmer, so we were never short of milk, cream and butter.  Any milk which turned sour (a not uncommon event since there were no refrigerators and we always had more than enough milk) was turned into cottage cheese.  Gran Ingleheart used to bake bread in the coal range in the form of the classic circular cottage loaf.  Other supplies were obtained at the general stores (or by travelling to either Exmouth or Exeter).  In this respect we were more fortunate than a lot of people as dad owned a car.  He had owned a few cars before we went to Devon.  I believe his real favourite had been a Trojan – because it had so few moving parts!  The car we travelled to Devon in was a Wolseley ‘Hornet’.  My only recollection of this car was one day when I was sitting in the passenger seat alongside dad and we were returning home.  We were almost home and were approaching the gates of one of the farm houses, on the main road in Woodbury, about the time the farmer decided to move the cows from his yard back to the fields.  As we came close to the gate a cow ran out – right into the path of dad’s car.  The Wolseley ‘Hornet’ was a solidly built car, but it was no match for the side of the cow!  We hit the cow, I hit the windscreen with my head and the cow fell down and the car came to an abrupt halt in a cloud of steam.  The cow picked itself up and took off down the road.  The farmer and dad started an argument as to who was to blame.  The farmer was yelling at dad that ‘Rosie weren’t loikely to be giv’n any more milk fer zum toim to come an wot do ‘ee intend to do ’bout it?’  Dad wasn’t overly worried about the cow, particularly as it had got up and run off – something his car was unlikely to do!  For my part I was administered to by a very tubby and cheery farmer’s wife, who was smearing pounds of butter onto the egg-sized bump on my forehead.  Eventually tempers cooled and reason prevailed, but the poor old Wolseley ‘Hornet’ was towed (by the farmer’s tractor) to the village green.  I assume that it was eventually picked up by a scrap merchant, but it sat on the green for a long time as a reminder to dad that, when it came to a collision with a farm animal, it was the car which normally suffered most damage!

Our stay with the Inglehearts was only for a few months.  My recollection of that time is that it was a magnificent summer.  On one such summer’s day I went with dad, the Ingleheart brothers and one or two other men to a neighbouring wheatfield.  The wheat was to be harvested and the men were going there to shoot rabbits.  The men took up their positions around the edge of a field as the harvester cut its way from the outer edge towards the centre of the wheat.  The men were there with shotguns waiting for the rabbits to come running out of the wheat.  To start with the shooting was slow, but as the area of wheat left to be cut diminished more and more rabbits broke cover and ran.  When there was only a small area left to harvest, the rabbits that had been moving towards the centre of the wheat all broke cover together.  The noise was incredible as half a dozen shotguns blazed away furiously.  Ted Ingleheart and dad went back to the cottage triumphantly carrying over a dozen rabbits between them.  It was Gran Ingleheart who took on the job of skinning and gutting the ‘trophies’.  Actually, rabbit stew and rabbit pie became two of my favourite meals – but unfortunately rabbit later disappeared ‘off the menu’ with the introduction of myxamatosis after the war.  I occasionally went with dad and Ted Ingleheart when Ted took his ferrets to catch some more rabbits for the table.  It was not as exciting as the rabbit shoot and I was not very keen on the ferrets.  They seemed only too willing to bite anything that they could reach and although they were his ferrets Ted was bitten quite a few times.  One of the other disadvantages of using ferrets that you had to have a very good idea of the construction of the rabbit warren.  Before you put a ferret down the hole you had to attach nets over all of the exits.  If you had missed an exit you could guarantee that the rabbits knew which was the safe escape route.  Half a dozen rabbits would come streaking out of the hole that had been overlooked, closely followed by the ferret in ‘hot pursuit’!  The chances of catching the ferret weren’t particularly good.  Another disadvantage was that occasionally the ferret would be quick enough to catch and kill a rabbit underground.  You then had to wait ages for the well fed ferret to reappear (sometimes, after an underground feast, the ferret would decide to take a siesta and then you really had a long wait).

I have no clear picture of what mum did with her time during our stay in Woodbury.  I know that I used to accompany her when she went ‘shopping’ at the village store.  She must have done all of the letter writing.  Every trip to the village store entailed a slight deviation to the Post Office (next door – and I suspect all part of the village stores as it was ‘manned’ by the grocer’s wife).  There mum would post a hand full of letters to relatives in London and Crawley and friends and neighbours from Dorking.  There were usually plenty of replies and the postman, whom I am sure had seldom ever had to stop at the Ingleheart’s before, must have been thinking of applying for a salary increase!  I have one clear memory of mum at this time.  It was a beautifully warm and calm summer’s.  Mum was sitting in the dining room (we had just finished the midday meal) when a wasp decided to join us.  Mum had no love for wasps and picked up a rolled-up newspaper and waited for the wasp to settle.  It eventually alighted on one of the windows (these windows had a sort of swirl pattern moulded into them and were becoming quite rare except for very old thatched cottages).  Mum seized her opportunity and swotted the wasp savagely with the rolled-up newspaper.  It was just unfortunate that there was a dessert spoon wrapped up inside this home-made fly-swat.  It took us quite a while to gather up all of the shards of glass laying about the path and flower garden!  (When I stopped outside of the old cottage, whilst on a visit ‘home’ in July 1995, I was disappointed to see that the thatched roof had been replaced by tiles and amused to see that there was still a plain glass window pane amongst the panes with the swirl pattern).

After a few weeks dad bought another car (an Austin 12, registration plate AJJ 73) and rented a house on the outskirts of Exmouth and we moved to our new home.

The house we rented was a semi-detached two storey brick house on the main road from Exmouth to Exeter at an area known as Courtlands Cross.  It had three bedrooms (two double and one single) and a bathroom/toilet upstairs and an entrance hall, lounge (front room), dining room, kitchen (with walk in pantry), coal cellar and toilet downstairs.  There was a wooden garage at the end of an unsealed drive.  The houses this far out of town were not on the sewer system so, at the bottom of the garden was an underground septic tank.  The contents of the tank (and the others down the road) were pumped into drainage ditches dug into the sloping field at the back of the house.  There was only one other semi-detached house and a garage/service station between us and the lane which marked the boundary for Exmouth.  The house was called “Tor View” and had a very pleasant view over the fields of Sir Garbut Knotts’ estate, the wide estuary of the river Exe, the village of Starcross on the other side of the river and behind Starcross the Haldon Hills.  On the town side of our house there was an empty space before the next row of houses.  This space opened out onto the large field on the river side of the house and consequently we were often visited by cows that had been turned out to graze.  Fortunately none of them ever felt the urge to test the flimsy wire fence separating us from them (although they used to enjoy eating the next door neighbour’s hedge).  The neighbour was a fairly cantankerous old codger and he used to try to drive the cows off by throwing stones at them.  He didn’t take too kindly to the four-year old brat admonishing him for his actions and informing him that ‘they aren’t your cows’.  This verbal exchange was reported to my father but dad decided it wasn’t worth getting too serious about, so I only got a lecture on respecting my elders.  Our next door neighbour on the other side was Joe Howes.  Joe quite often came over in the evening to play cribbage with dad.  Joe was an old man who was looked after by his live-in daughter.  He was quite a gardener and I think his vegetable garden more or less forced dad to do quite a bit of gardening, but I don’t think it was dad’s favourite occupation.  Dad tended to put a large percentage of the garden into potatoes.  I think that he reasoned that they didn’t need so much attention as other crops!

Because dad was manager of a stone quarry (The Blackhill Stone Co. on Woodbury Common) and was supplying roading contractors with various sizes of screened shingle, it wasn’t long before we had a properly sealed drive.  Some large roughly egg-shaped stones (about 12″ – 18″ in diameter) were accumulated over a few weeks and an impressive rockery/retaining wall was constructed between the drive and the front lawn.  Mum was none too pleased with the indoor coal cellar.  It had its advantages that you didn’t have to go outside on freezing cold, wet nights to fill the scuttle – but it also had the disadvantage that coal dust always seemed to permeate throughout the house, and even more so when Tom Phillips, the coal merchant, delivered the coal!!  A large wooden coal-bin was constructed behind the garage and the indoor coal cellar eventually became a storage room.  During the summer months the outside coal-bin became a handy hiding place for when I had committed some misdemeanour or other.  Needless to say my ‘secret hideaway’ didn’t remain secret for very long, (the coal-bin then doubled as an imaginary fort, a house, a ship and numerous other objects depending upon whatever game we were playing at the time).

When we first moved to “Tor View” there were very few other children in the group of houses leading up to Courtlands Cross.  I can only recall three other children, Raymond Heyde and John Kemp,  both  older than I, and Janet Coombs who lived two houses away and was about my age.  Unfortunately Janet’s parents were both teachers (at what was known in those days as the Senior School) and Mrs Coombs decided that she couldn’t stand my accent (which I believe was a kind of hybrid cockney gleaned, no doubt, from mum).  I used to have elocution lessons from Mrs Coombs.  Once, when my Uncle Tim was staying with us, he seemed to derive some humour from my early-age elocution lessons.  Uncle Tim, Aunt Lil and cousin Douglas used to regularly come down from Peckham to spend their summer holidays with us.  During one of their early visits I came in for lunch after one of my ‘lessons’ and Uncle Tim wanted to know what I had learned.  I carefully recalled my set lines – “How now, brown cow; grazing in the green, green grass”.  No doubt my enunciation was rather exaggerated and Tim was obviously amused and enquired as to whether, at the completion of the lesson, I had said “See yer ‘s’arternoon, arftr’av’ad me dinner” before coming home.  I suppose I was contemplating using this form of farewell, when I received a withering look from mum and advised it would not be good for my health to try it!  I guess Janet Coombs and I never became very friendly, I was naturally overawed by her parents.  I was always invited to her birthday parties (and out of duty I returned the compliment) but I never enjoyed going.  In fact I rapidly developed an aversion to going to all parties (including my own), which appears to have lasted the rest of my life.

Eventually two other families moved into Courtlands Cross, the Scullards and the Partridges.  The Scullards had two boys about my age, Jim and Richard, and the Partridges had a daughter, Noreena.

Having some ‘playmates’ around my own age was probably very timely.  I had become very ‘insular’, hardly ever doing anything without either my mother or my father being there.  At least now I was playing ‘away from home’ – even if it wasn’t very far from home.  I say that this was timely, because  I was approaching my fifth birthday and school was just over the horizon.  I dread to think what school would have been like if I had never ever left mum’s apron strings before having to spend a whole day outside of her ‘protective shield’.

For a few weeks before I was to go to school both mum and dad spent a lot of time ‘indoctrinating’ me about what school was all about and what life at school was like.  I am sure they both knew that  my raucous ‘coke-hammer’ voice and apparently belligerent ways were an extremely thin veneer and that underneath I was more nervous than a neurotic kitten.  I think that the well meant tête-à-têtes probably did little to reassure me, but they tried.  When the great day arrived for me to start school, mum walked me the one and a half miles from home to the Exeter Road Infant’s School.  She introduced me to the Headmistress, Miss Long, saw me safely settled in to my classroom, gave me my paper bag with the jam sandwiches oozing through it and departed.  I remember nothing at all about that first morning except that I kept myself very much to myself, didn’t mix with any of the other kids at playtime (although they all seemed to be having fun!) and instead ate my sticky sandwiches.  When the bell sounded for the lunch break, I left the classroom, left the school and walked the one and a half miles back home.  Mum was horrified when I arrived indoors, her first reaction was that I had been sent home sick and asked me what was wrong.  I replied that nothing was wrong and that I had been to school, so now I had come home.  In all of the pre-school discussions no-one had told me that school was an on going event and that you didn’t get it over with in one morning!!  Needless to say I was less than impressed when I got hauled off to school again the next morning. I was even more distressed the following week when mum decided that I would benefit from having a hot meal at midday (in those days most people had their main meal in the middle of the day – only the ‘landed gentry’ ate their main meal at night).  I was therefore enrolled for school dinners.  I was probably the ‘fussiest eater’ ever to draw breath, there were so many things that mum no longer bothered putting on my plate.  I wouldn’t eat cabbage, swede, turnips, spinach, broccoli, onions, mutton, fatty meat, gristly meat – the list was endless!  I think that the way cabbage was cooked in those days put me off cabbage for life.  The standard method of cooking cabbage then was to boil the cabbage for a long time.  The cabbage and the water in which it had been boiled were decanted into a colander to allow the water to drain away (taking any goodness with it) and the remaining soggy mass was squeezed into the colander (with a very large wooden ‘mushroom’), thereby ensuring any residual flavour and goodness was consigned to the sink!  The resulting compacted mass was then cut into blocks and  dished out with the rest of the meal.  Imagine my horror the first day that I attended for school dinners to discover that you were expected to eat everything on the plate!  That first school dinner turned out to be mashed potatoes, sausages and boiled swede.  Something approaching panic gripped me as I moved up the queue, clutching the plate onto which the kitchen staff were going to dispense the various components of the meal.  God smiled on me that day.  As I moved along the table the staff member in charge of the boiled swede missed me out!  I couldn’t believe my luck.  My good fortune didn’t continue beyond that first day.  For the following two weeks I forced down the foul tasting contents on my plate, before finally convincing mum that I would far rather crawl home and back in a howling blizzard that be subjected to further gastronomical torture.  One incident at school dinners really convinced me that I had to talk mum into letting me eat at home.  One day the boy that I was sitting next to put up his hand to attract the attention of the supervising mistress.

“Yes dear” she said when she came up to him, “is there something wrong?”

“Please miss, there’s a caterpillar on my cabbage.”  The mistress (and I) inspected his dinner, causing me to feel decidedly nauseous!

“It’s alright dear,” she said “you don’t have to eat it.”  With a look of relief on his face he pushed his plate away.

“No dear,” she admonished, “I mean that you don’t have to eat the caterpillar.”

That did it for me.  The thought of not only struggling to force down soggy cabbage, which I hated at the best of times, but at the same time having to negotiate my way around a large, juicy caterpillar  was more than I could envisage.  It wasn’t easy to convince mum of my worries at this time as she was almost ready to produce the next member of the Hygate tribe, but at five years old I was totally ignorant of her condition and the caterpillar incident had made me very determined to get my way.  Dad did the catering whilst mum was in the nursing home having Brian.  It is debatable as to which was the worse, dad’s cooking or school dinners!

The arrival of Brian was, I think, a disappointment for mum, who desperately wanted another ‘Doris’.  For the first two or three years of his life mum used to make believe he was the daughter she had so wanted and she used to dress him as a girl.  I was too young still to appreciate what was going on, although I was observant enough to know that something wasn’t what I would have called ‘right’.  I am sure that those first years didn’t have any lasting effect on Brian – although it may explain why he hangs on to the scruffy beard he has worn for long periods of his adult life!

The arrival of my kid brother had little or no effect on my life at the time.  I continued going to and from the Infant’s School twice a day and I slowly widened my circle of friends (although only three of them lived fairly close to our house).  One of my new friends was a Muriel Thorn, who’s father owned Backenhayes Farm (less than a mile from where we lived).  This friendship extended through to both families and as a result we quite often used to go out, as a family, to spend the day at Backenhayes farm.  Dad was back into rabbit shooting and trapping (although mum was never all that keen on skinning and gutting the results of his success) and we all became involved in such country pastimes as churning butter, haymaking, haystacking and making wheat sheaves and so on.  I particularly liked the haystacking because I got to use a pitchfork (and although it was home made, small and the tines were very blunt the real workers gave me a wide berth).  I also got my own stone jar of farmhouse cider to drink with my ‘ploughman’s lunch’ (except that my stone jar contained a fizzy orange drink called Corona).  The adult workers always seemed to be a lot happier during the afternoon than they had been in the morning!

Other kids I got to know through school, and who didn’t live too far away, included Fred Penhaligan and Hazel Payne.  Fred was the son of the estate manager for Sir Garbut Knotts’ estate.  He was a quiet kid and I don’t think that we ever built up much in the way of a strong friendship.  Hazel Payne used to live in the ‘last house on the right’ at Halsdon Cross and our friendship was really just the companionship of two young kids walking to and from school together.  Robin Ingleheart, Ted Ingleheart’s nephew, used to sometimes get the bus from Woodbury and we would spend the day playing in the field behind our house.  We played all the usual games like ‘Cowboys and Indians’ and used to fly kites (made by dad).  Dad could never make a plain, simple kite, it had to be a feat of engineering.  The box kite he made me seemed to take forever to make (it was probably only a day or two) and was so heavy I couldn’t’ imagine how I was going to be able to launch it.  Eventually, Robin and I, working together got the kite airborne.  To dad’s credit it was an outstanding success.  There was enough string on the line to have nearly reached Mars and we certainly got the kite to an impressive altitude (well, it looked very, very small at the end of the line!)  In those days we didn’t have to worry about getting entangled with low flying aircraft, you hardly ever saw an aircraft.  Those we did see would have looked quite out of place nowadays – especially the occasional Autogiro (a sort of helicopter with fixed wings).  There was one draw back with dad’s successful kite – the fun of kite-flying rapidly dissipated when it came to reeling the thing in – it seemed to take for ever and your wrists were aching and throbbing by the time it had finally been retrieved.  Kid’s memories were notoriously short and the next time that the wind was right we would try to get it even higher.  We even added more line on to the ‘reel’ (the short length of broom handle around which the line was wound in a figure-of-eight motion.  Our continued attempts to beat previous ‘altitude records’ were ultimately the cause of our downfall.  We obviously hadn’t been too careful when tying the knots to add extra line to the reel and, sure enough, on one windy day we had got the kite really flying high when suddenly the effort required to restrain the kite vanished!  The kite was free!!  I have no idea where it eventually came to earth, but somewhere in the English Channel would probably be as good a guess as any.

Another of dad’s masterpieces was a sledge (or sleigh if you prefer).  We had had a substantial fall of snow followed by some frosty nights and more snow.  The field behind the house seemed to be the ideal place for tobogganing, so dad put together a pretty basic wooden sledge.  It wasn’t successful from the top of the field, but part of the way down the hill the slope was appreciably steeper.  From this starting point it was reasonably successful.  However…..

The next modification was to make the wooden runners narrower.  This was a failure.  Immediately two 2″ wide steel runners were affixed to the bottom of the wooden runners.  It made the sledge very heavy, but, once the snow had polished these runners, it really zoomed over the snow.  After one frosty night the sledge actually worked faultlessly from the top of the hill.  Again the new found advantages of the longer run were counteracted by the long drag back up to the top again.  I have no difficulty in understanding why ski lifts are so essential on ski fields – I wish there had been a ‘sledge lift’ on ‘our’ field.  Perhaps dad would have made one if I had asked!

Other ‘toys’ that dad produced included a pea-shooter (which was, in fact, a boiler gauge glass), it was also very accurate.  I think that, at first, mum was worried that I would fall over with it in my hand a give myself a nasty gash.  Surprisingly that didn’t happen.  I say surprisingly, because I always seemed to be falling over and having mum ‘dab’ my grazed knees an elbows with copious quantities of Iodine.  And yes, it did sting!!  My ammunition, as with all pea-shooters was dried peas – although some kids used to use small pebbles.  Another ‘toy’ was a catapult (or slingshot).  I had come down from my bedroom early in the morning before anybody else was up.  I found the catapult in one of the sideboard drawers – but what did I use for ammunition?  No, I didn’t use dried peas, I used a marble!!  I drew the elastic back (fortunately only a short distance) and released the ‘missile’.  The marble hit the glass in the left hand French door.  Almost scared to breathe I tip-toed to the window praying that I had done no damage.  No such luck!!  The impact had knocked a butterfly-shaped piece of glass (about an inch wide) from the outside of the glass.  Apart from a minute hole the internal surface of the glass; the  damage, which  I hoped would be viewed as tolerably minor, was all on the outside surface.  I put the catapult back in the drawer, the marble back in its bag and me back into my bed.  It was nearly two weeks before the damage was noticed.  In those two weeks I felt that the Sword of Damocles was poised over my head.  Amazingly I immediately admitted to being the perpetrator of the crime.  Dad wanted to know how I had done it.  When I explained what I had done on that morning he didn’t believe me, because the damage was on the outside and he insisted that I must have been outside.  I don’t know whether he had engaged in some amateur research during the morning at the quarry, or whether he had just asked around, but by dinner time he was convinced.  The amazing thing, as far as I was concerned, was that dad was more interested in the physics involved in the way glass breaks that he forgot to punish me in any way!  It was a very long time before I ever picked up a catapult again!!

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