Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Second Story of a Shoreham Photo



“Bertie is, as Bertie does”, was what my Auntie Clara used to say just before she would laugh so hard that a bubble would form at the bottom of her nose. Then she would hold her sides and say, “one more laugh and I might just wet my knickers”.

Uncle Bertie had always been the crazy one of the family, or as my mother - his sister - would say, “one day the will lock him up, I swear to God, and throw away the key”.

His first foray into attempting to get to the Tower of London was the day of Queen Victoria’s funeral. The village of Shoreham was understandably sad, and Uncle Bertie decided to dress up as a young Victoria and parade up and down Church Street.

One spinster, herself called Victoria, was so shocked by what she saw through the window, that she took the vapours and lay in a darkened room for several days. It didn’t seem to worry the family just how well Uncle Bertie portrayed a woman, and a royal one at that.

It was in 1906, that Uncle Bertie and Aunt Clara became custodians of the Kings Arms local hostelry. Aunt Clara’s father had made money in some South African mines and had left his wealth to her (he thought Uncle Bertie ‘a buffoon’ and made sure all the money was in his daughter’s name).

Although there was much competition in the village with the public houses, namely The George, The Rising Sun, The Royal Oak, The Two Brewers and last, but not least, The Crown, they still managed to make a living.

People came in from Swanley and Bromley to see Uncle Bertie and Aunt Clara behind the bar. Sometimes Uncle Bertie would get so drunk that he’d get Aunt Clara to play her fiddle while he danced naked on the table.

Uncle Bertie was forever getting into trouble.

When Christopher Landtrap came to stay in the village, he chose the Kings Arms as his drinking den. He brought down many ‘artistic’ London types who would quaff ale and sing songs down by the river. Christopher claimed to be a grandson of Salmuel Palmer, the Shoreham artist, it was neither proved, nor disproved but Shoreham being Shoreham, no one disputed the fact.

It was early in 1910 that Christopher got caught up in the photography bug which had spread amongst the bright young things.

Christopher decided to make a record of all the public houses in Shoreham and that he would start with the Kings Arms. Uncle Bertie asked Christopher how long it took to take a photograph and he told him that it would take sixty seconds. So when Christopher asked everyone to stay indoors while he took the photograph – everyone did - except Uncle Bertie who ran into the street just as the photo was being taken.
The photo stands today.

Uncle Bertie died in London when a Zeppelin dropped a bomb in the street where he was walking and Auntie Clara died as she listened to Elvis Presley on the radio.  

bobby stevenson 2015




No comments:

Post a Comment