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This Was My England


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Table of Contents

Prologue page - v; CHAPTER 1; Two Very Different Families; On writing an autobiography - My birth - Maternal relatives - Paternal relatives - Mother - Father - Their early relationship - Their marriage - Tensions between the two families - My birth gives rise to a family quarrel and long-standing split; page - 1; CHAPTER 2; As a Toddler in London; The problem of my name - My cousins - My admiration for their family - My godparents - How my mother ingratiated herself with her in-laws - The unfortunate consequences of this to other relatives - My loathing for Muswell Hill - Haunted by irrational fears - My first love; page - 19; CHAPTER 3; A Sanctuary from War; My maternal grandparents' West country home - A life of freedom - My bad temper - An Old Dame's school - A perverse curiosity - My mother's broken promises "not to tell" - Days on the farm - Why I resolved never to attend school - Social life at Sampford Place, and my mother's relatives; page - 35; CHAPTER 4; Return to the Bombing; Am sent to a Convent school - Early infatuations - Ashmount and my father's relatives - Early disdain for the church environment - Biblical versus classical values - A cane is purchased - Its use as a punishment weapon - The bombing at night; page - 57; CHAPTER 5; To the West country Again; My brother and I are sent to the parish school - Life in wartime Melksham - Visits to relatives in Bath - Summer holidays in the War years; page - 71. CHAPTER 6; School and Life in London; At Norfolk House - School friends - Home life - Jane, the maid - The birth of Oliver and the employment of Miss Wall - How I came to judge my father - The neighbours - The influence of Arthur Mee - Nightmares and sleepwalking; page - 80; CHAPTER 7; The Inferno of Boarding School; Preparations for boarding school - I am deposited - Secret theft and violent robbery - The dyspeptic Matron - First day ceremonial and the Headmaster - Ritual torture - Poor standards of teaching - My clash with the Divinity master - A general election looms - Compulsive gangsterism - An end of term blasphemous concert is enjoyed by all; page - 93; CHAPTER 8; The Sadistic Head Boy; The Housemaster's appointee - Brutality encouraged by the housemaster's sister - The reluctant lover - The traitor and his punishment - My fight with Tuffield - His gunpowder accident - The Viking ghost - Class war in the school grounds - The consequences of an early morning quarrel; page - 107; CHAPTER 9; A Tutor and his Obsession; Woodbridge and its influence: a summary - The tutor's methods - His self-pity - The curriculum - His rages - I am falsely accused - I join the scouts - Communists in Muswell Hill - Why I avoid public conveniences - Unnecessary death of my maternal grandfather - The fear of socialist dispossession - I offer to forego my pocket money - The Labour government ensures the further enrichment rather the impoverishment of our family - Our new residence - How I broke with my brother; page - 118; CHAPTER 10; Back to Public School; My examination for Highgate - Jew-baiting at school - Causes of this - My affinity with the Jews - Inspirational teaching of History, English and Latin - An art work is condemned; page - 138. CHAPTER 11; My Escape into Literature; My psychological attachment to The Three Musketeers and the 17th century - Broadening interest in the classics - Illness and absence from school - The dreaded art lessons - The influence of the PT master - Visits to antiquarian bookshops - Holidays and other relatives in Swanage - Two new loves; page - 150; CHAPTER 12; The Conflicts of Home Life; Mabs, my father's friend - A suicide gesture - Jane, the maid - Pleasures of the pantomime - My father's contradictory attitudes on class and status; page - 163; CHAPTER 13; A New School and New Values; King Alfred School: its values and success - Its system of discipline - The psychological problems of social integration - The teaching of history - Ronald Fuller and English literature - Political interests and the debating society - Raphael Samuels and our differences; page - 172; CHAPTER 14; Love for an Actress; The beautiful Patricia Dainton - Psychological background for such an obsession - I seek personal advice for courtship - The first love letters - My mental condition - Revelations of the Journal; page - 190; CHAPTER 15; An Unsuccessful Mission; A family crisis over the wearing of spectacles - Details of my daily life and plans for courtship - First visit to Conduit street; page - 202; CHAPTER 16; A Gift for a Goddess; Schemes of murder - Am diverted by a Restoration drama - I speak with PD's mother - Second visit to Conduit street and the outcome; page - 214. CHAPTER 17; Gestures of Suicide; Preparations for the third visit - I meet Vivienne Black - A new plan followed by a desperate correspondence - Failure of my literary efforts - Attempts at self-injury - Suicide letters; page - 223; CHAPTER 18; Respite with my Grandmother; My grandmother moves to Bath - My wanderings in the city - Treats and outings - Visits to Hampton Hall - The move to my aunt and uncle - Attitudes to smoking - Character of Uncle Bill; page - 233; CHAPTER 19; The Misery of Home Life; The rebelliousness of my brother and his expulsion from home - The circumstances in which I and my youngest brother were eventually to break from our parents - Misery for all - The break-up for the foursome - Illness and hypochondria - Friendship with my cousin; page - 242; CHAPTER 20; A Violent Crisis Point is Reached; My confirmation and what it meant - Discovery of Miss Dainton's marriage - Dull days at stuffy Elmer Sands - A desperate scheme; page - 254; CHAPTER 21; The Problem of my Future; The collapse of my school work - School reports - Career advice from teachers and relatives - My father vetoes my preferences - The "nice" man at the Youth Employment Bureau; page - 264; CHAPTER 22; My Bath Relatives versus my Parents; Visit to Bath - The au pair Barbara - Our intellectual friendship - Aunt Inez suggests a stay in Germany - Plans are formulated - My parents opposition - My father's rudeness to Barbara - My Aunt's secret letter - Am forced into employment with T.G. Williams Ltd. - Am relieved to be sacked - My mother takes me to an interview; page - 274. CHAPTER 23; I enter the Legal World; An upstairs downstairs world of gossip - The varied staff - A question of class consciousness - How a legal mindset was to be of benefit in the future - My interest in jurisprudence; page - 287; CHAPTER 24; My Life in the West End; My continuing literary efforts - Theatre going - A Philosophy course - Strange visitors to the office - The Sergeant-Major loses his job - The arrival of Mr. Dawes - The Coronation - Love for a waitress; page - 298; CHAPTER 25; Old School Friends and Others; The Browns' new residence - A KAS function - Gilbert Harding - Passion for Miss Dainton revived - Attempts at the cure of pipe smoking - End of the PD affair - Assessments for military fitness - Osbourn and his Jewish girl friend - A spiritualist meeting - An evening with Richard Martin - Geoffrey Dunston and our doomed friendship - My grandfather's second marriage; page - 310; CHAPTER 26; An Ending and a New Beginning; How I ended my employment - A party at KAS - My Apology - Final parting - Christmas 1953 - Letters of thanks and good wishes - I join the Army; page - 321; Epilogue page - 331. Illustrations; between pages 170 - 171; Plates - 1; a) Author's paternal grandfather, Ernest William Corfe (1878-1963); b) Author's paternal grandmother, Ethel Corfe, nee Smith (1885-1951); c) Maternal grandfather, Capt. John Figgins, RN, OBE (1868-1946); d) Maternal grandmother, Grace Figgins, nee Bedbrook (1876-1965); Plates - 2; a) Great-grandfather, Rear Admiral James Albert Bedbrook (1845-1902); b) Author's early childhood & later teenage home: 196 Muswell Hill Rd.; c) Author's father, Felix Norman Corfe (1906-1990); d) Author's mother, Joyce D.P. Corfe, nee Figgins (1906-2000); Plates - 3; a) With maternal grandparents at Ashmount, with l. to r., Uncle Harold & father, 1936; b) Author age 2 in London home, 1937; c) With Old Nanny in garden, 1937; d) With maternal grandmother in Melksham, 1937; Plates - 4; a) Easter w/e picnic 1937, w. seated: l. to r. Aunts Anita, Betty, Great-aunt Loo, Cousin Maris, Great-aunt Blanche, maternal grandmother, Aunt Pam & mother; Standing: Uncles Denys & Vaughan, Great-aunt Gwladys & Great-uncle Percy; b) Whitsun picnic 1937, l. to r. Uncle Dick, author, mother, cousin Anne, Aunt Joan (Brown), cousin Michael & Uncle Harold; Plates - 5; a) In London age 3; b) Sampford Place, Melksham; c) With Ealing Nanny, 1938; Plates - 6. a) Author age 4 at Kingsdown, September 1939; b) On "my land" at back of Sampford Place, 1942; c) Author in background w. cousin Maris & brother, Gavin, in foreground, 3rd Septlember 1939 at Sampford Place; Plates - 7; a) At Weddon Cross, Somerset, 1943; b) Author with his two younger brothers & Miss Wall at Sampford Place, 1944; c) Hampton Hall, Bathampton, Bath; d) With paternal grandparents, mother & youngest brother, Oliver, 1945; e) G.B.Riddell, Housemaster, Woodbridge Junior School; xvi; Illustrations; Plates - 8; a) With mother & Gavin, Half Term at Woodbridge, 1945; b) With parents, Great-aunt Ruth, & Gavin, Westleton, Suffolk, 1945; c) The Revd. Prebendary E.A. Dunn (1877-1964); d) Author's later childhood & early teenage home, 105 Muswell Hill Rd.; e) The 3 brothers with dogs, Judy & Woofa in Highgate Wood, 1946; Plates - 9 Highgate School, July 1947; a) The author b) R.D. Newman; b) R. Olden (Robin Ray) d) R.G.C. Osbourn; Plates - 10; a) Highgate Schoolmasters: l. to r. L.G. Markham (Latin Master), H.F.R. Miller (Junior School Head), G.F. Bell (Senior School Head); b) Author's father in sailing dinghy, Elmer Sands, 1950; c) Woodhouse, Elmer Sands; Plates - 11; a) Author's parents with Mabs on left; b) Back row: paternal grandparents; front row: Uncle Quentin, mother & Aunt Sybel. c) Author's parents with Aunt Joan (Brown) at left, Elmer Sands; d) Mother with Mabs & Bill Symonds in Scotland; Plates - 12 King Alfred School, June 1951; a) The author b) Raphael Samuels; b) Jonathan Davis d) Sarah Miller; Plates - 13 King Alfred School Staff; a) The Heads: Mr. B.H. Montgomery & Mrs. H.M.E. Barber; b) Mr. F.C. Johnson (History) & Mr. Ronald Fuller (English); c) 16 Conduit Street as it appears in 2011; d) Patricia Dainton, November 1950; e) White House, with l. to r. father, Uncle Quentin, mother, Aunt Sybel & Aunt Joan; Plates - 14; a) 10 Sion Hill, Bath; b) Aunt Inez in WREN uniform; c) Uncle Bill at Sampford Place; d) The author in December 1953; e) 2 Old Burlington Street as it appear in 2011.

About the Author

Robert Corfe is a prolific author of books on political science and social issues, and in addition to the present work, he has produced 3 other autobiographical titles under different pseudonyms, viz., The Girl From East Berlin a romantic docu-drama of the East-West divide (James Furner), an epic novel relating his love affair in the old German capital at the end of the 1950s; My Conflict With a Soviet Spy the story of the Ron Evans spy case (Eddie Miller), based on his adventures in Scandinavia in the 1960s; and, Death in Riyadh dark secrets in hidden Arabia (Geoff Carter), based on his experiences as a businessman in the Middle East in the 1980s. He has also been active in different spheres of public life, and in 1987 he founded The Campaign For Industry in promoting home-based productivity. This Was My England records the tempestuous first 18 years of his life, and the horrific experiences both at home and at boarding school. It then describes his love for a film star during his teens, and the long-term destructive consequences of this impossible obsession, which led to gestures of suicide and murder. The book is also an interesting social document in that it presents an array of colourful and eccentric characters, and vividly portrays the attitudes and private life of a long past epoch in the 1940s and start of the 50s.

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