Bill Smith, he sat at his garden door, and puffed at the old black clay [pipe]; his neat little missus was there at his side, and the kiddies, too, at play. ‘So help me! It’s good, old gal’, sighed Bill, ‘this hour at the end of the day.’
Hans Schulz stood under the linden tree, and told in the old, old way a tale of love to the trembling lips of a fraulein. And poets say ’tis a tale that is told the whole world o’er in that hour at the end of the day.
And a message came from the Lord Knows Who, and summoned them both away to take their guns the Lord Knows Where, and to hell with the dire dismay of Bill’s little missus and Hans’ pretty Schatz, in that hour at the end of the day.
You’d think homely fellows like Bill and Hans would chum if they met. Strange to say, they lay on their bellies like crawling things and blazed and blazed away. Though they hadn’t set eyes on each other before, they blazed and blazed away.
And Billy sent Hans to Kingdom Come, and Hans sent Bill and his band. And Bill’s little missus and Hans’ pretty schatz, they never could understand. But Lord, what do womenfolk comprehend of the way to govern a land.
Note: Yes, this is doggerel, but I find it none the less effective for that, and I hope you do too.
Edward Judge looked forward to his morning constitutional along to the Reading Room opposite The George. It had become quite a home from home for him and his fellow village husbands who were no longer obliged to labour with their hands or their brains in order to earn their daily crust. The most uxorious of men needed to assert their independent interests outside the home (especially with all this suffragette nonsense) and it had become the agreeable custom to meet and exchange views in a place where no one would object if a fellow wanted to smoke a cigar or a pipe.
With this war on, it was becoming quite an important little gathering. The general view was that it was perfectly all right to leave the management of the village to the new 1parish council, so long as one or two of them sat on it and the decisions of the council were decided in advance by the Reading Room fraternity.
The problem about this, however, was brilliantly summed up by this morning’s cartoon in ‘The Daily Mirror’ (not that he would ever have such a rag in his own house – but the Reading Room had copies of most newspapers). Saloon strategists were the bane of all masculine gatherings, and simply had to be borne with gritted teeth.
1 The 1894 Local Government Act had introduced elected parish councils throughout the United Kingdom. In village terms, a constitutional change which is only 20 years old is (still) considered new.
On 1st September 1914 William John Benham presented himself to the recruitment office in Andover and signed up to the Army Service Corps.
While working for Gilbert Culley, William John Benham had been living as one of the family 1. As they explained to the reporter from the Andover Advertiser, it was a blow to the Culleys to lose him so soon to the war effort:
St Mary Bourne
War correspondents now-a-days have obscurity of diction enforced upon them with the avowed object of keeping the enemy in a fog, but this arbitrary restriction only succeeds in mystifying the British public. Some things, however, the enemy are bound to know and feel before very long, for some of our young men have the knack of making their presence felt in the fighting line in a remarkably short time. It may therefore not be regarded as disloyal to state that Messrs.Culley Brothers have lost several of their men—all total abstainers and lads that can be depended on in any emergency. Messrs.Culley Brothers recognise the voluntary system of the country; and have not therefore placed any pressure on their men to go; but when their men expressed the decision to go Messrs.Culley paid them their Michaelmas money in advance, and assured them that their places would be kept open for them. The names are Frank Cummins, William Benham, and Wedge, the two former having been three and seven years respectively in Messrs.Culley’s service. Mr.Ewart Culley is with the Territorials. Notwithstanding the loss of their men, Messrs.Culley were able to finish their harvest on Tuesday. The determination to keep the men’s places open for them entails a good deal of hard work and self-sacrifice upon Mrs.Culley, her son Mr.Gilbert Culley, and all at home. Mrs.Culley lost her husband six years ago, and is particularly hard hit by the outbreak of war.
Andover Advertiser, Friday, 18 September 1914
1 See 1911 census
Frank Cummins and the Wedges will be the subject of separate posts.