Home | A Shout From The Attic

October 29, 2013

Goodnight Mrs Speedy Wherever You Are

Ronnie Bray recalls an evening of high-speed music.

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October 22, 2013

In Prison And Ye Came Unto Me

Ronnie Bray tells of a dog which went astray

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October 15, 2013

The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd

"I fell in love with the stage at an early age: completely stage-struck,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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October 08, 2013

The Mill Dam

"Sometimes, a few words can send a shiver up your spine and chill your blood. As I read the line, “My mother never smiled again,” I knew that a life had changed beyond the ability of any human being to measure unless they have stood in that mother’s place and felt her pain,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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October 01, 2013

Almost Caruso

...He was a small, sort of handsome man, getting along in years, dapper enough but getting just a little untidy around the edges – but that voice!...

Ronnie Bray recalls competitive singing.

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September 24, 2013

Matt’s Cloak Of Invisibility

Ronnie Bray tells of the evening his son displayed a talent for "magic''.

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September 17, 2013

The Wafter

Ronnie Bray recalls the day he was asked to use a wafter.

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September 10, 2013

The Nail

Ronnie Bray tells of an accident which led him to a deeper understanding of his faith.

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September 03, 2013

Fish Tale

...I sat and looked at the tank and was deeply troubled by what I saw. Among the pretty monkfish, angelfish, bottom crawlers, water snails, and several unpronouncables was a mild mannered Shubunkin who seemed to be having a hard time of it...

Ronnie Bray tells of the day he became a fish doctor.

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August 27, 2013

Catching The Rocket

Ronnie Bray recalls the bus that failed to stop - morning after morning.

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August 20, 2013

Honley

Ronnie Bray tells of yet another move in his peripatetic life.

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August 13, 2013

Albert And The Plank

...Albert was one of those rare souls that seemed to be untroubled by anything. He had forged his niche in life in earlier years, was in a good and stable marriage, was valued as a friend, and appreciated as an employee...

Ronnie Bray continues his engaging life story.

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August 06, 2013

The Rolling Pin Incident

Ronnie Bray recalls the day a woman took command of a domestic situation.

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July 30, 2013

Nancy Wairumi Kumani

"I saw her and was transfixed. She was a dazzlingly beautiful African girl...''

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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July 23, 2013

I Went To Help The Man In The Darkness And Found A Friend

"One of Pete’s many talents is his idiosyncratic and artistic handwriting. Someone once remarked that Pete’s handwriting and mine were alike. Pete’s response to that was that they weren’t because he could read his own handwriting, but he could not read mine! A point well made, because I can read Pete’s but I can’t read my own after three days,'' writes Ronnie Bray, telling how he met a man who was to become a good friend.

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July 16, 2013

Illuminating Auntie

...She was unable to deal with anyone’s anger or disapproval. However, only a churl and a blockhead could take offence at this pleasant, retiring lady with gentle smile and sweet round eyes, whose only demand on life was that it leave her alone to get on with her simple occupations...

Ronnie Bray tells of a night of disaster, followed by a night of joy.

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July 09, 2013

Café Talk

"Being courteous, considerate, and kind-hearted is not a vice, but a virtue, whether in business or among friends or strangers,'' writes Ronnie Bray, recalling the time when he ran a cafe.

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July 02, 2013

Admiral North

...To those who did not know him he was a worthless thing: a broken man, a penniless tramp who smelled rather ripe, especially on wet days after twenty minutes under the café’s fan heater. Yet inside him was a residue of the gentleman he had once been...

Ronnie Bray tells of a man who stood alone.

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June 25, 2013

The June Years - 11

"As I was wending my way between two gigantic piles of Russian timber, my faithful steed came to an abrupt stop and refused to start...''

Ronnie Bray recalls an encounter with a man who was finally forced to see sense.

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The June Years - 11

"As I was wending my way between two gigantic piles of Russian timber, my faithful steed came to an abrupt stop and refused to start...''

Ronnie Bray recalls an encounter with a man who was finally forced to see sense.

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June 18, 2013

The June Years - 10

...Being a nurse meant that I witnessed plenty of coolness and distance from those that ought to have been closer and intimate. Sons that could not hug their dying mothers, brothers who did not understand why their schizophrenic siblings did not respond like normal people did...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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June 11, 2013

The June Years - 9

Ronnie Bray tells of kites which showed no tendency to fly.

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June 04, 2013

The June Years - 8

Ronnie Bray tells of the bad-tempered boss who suddenly thought he was in mushroom heaven.

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May 28, 2013

The June Years - 7

...As Mahalia Jackson filled and warmed my heart that drab December day, so the singers of songs, and the weavers of glad dreams, together with those who scatter gloom with the light of their smiles fill and warm the cheerless, setting them again to face the light of life and the hopeful dawn of a new day...

Ronnie Bray continues his enriching autobiography.

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May 21, 2013

The June Years - 6

...Cathy transformed herself from an attractive but cheap looking girl into a winsome and well-dressed young lady. Most of Cathy’s problems had their genesis in her self-image, for she defined herself as less than she was...

Ronnie Bray tells of a troubled young lady who turned her life around.

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The June Years - 6

...Cathy transformed herself from an attractive but cheap looking girl into a winsome and well-dressed young lady. Most of Cathy’s problems had their genesis in her self-image, for she defined herself as less than she was...

Ronnie Bray tells of a troubled young lady who turned her life around.

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May 14, 2013

The June Years - 5

...life can be more fun than anyone ever imagined when one is not restricted by good sense, propriety, and sanity...

Ronnie Bray continues his astonishing autobiography.

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May 07, 2013

The June Years - 4

...We spent the hot afternoon shielding our eyes from the sun, watching fishes sport with us and our inducements, and talking
extravagantly as if we were the only ones alive in that green world of the high summertime glow in a deserted meadowfield in the heart of holy Suffolk, when earth, sky, God, man, and boy met in a lustrous celebration of life and its blessings
attended by a peace that no spell can bind or break...

Ronnie Bray recalls a memorable fishing trip.

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April 30, 2013

The June Years - 3

Ronnie Bray tells of a true gentleman.

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April 23, 2013

The June Years - 2

...Arthur was rejected while he was a baby. Some say that babies don’t know what’s going on, but Arthur did, and he developed a sense of rejection that gnawed into him all through his short life. He had so much to offer and asked so little in return – only to be loved and appreciated. When he was nine, he threw himself into the river at Ipswich Docks to kill himself. He was fished out and put into another foster home...

Continuing his autobiography, Ronnie Bray tells with great compassion of the sad life of a young artist.

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April 16, 2013

The June Years - 1

"I know what I saw and that’s the end of it! A Little Green Man stood by the side of my bed. He was as substantial as whatever is in front of you at this moment,'' writes Ronnie Bray, continuing his life story.

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April 09, 2013

The Mummy-Daddy Years - 8

...So continued the life of the DB6 project storeman and his diurnal round of fighting iciness, moisture, and their redheaded offspring, rust. Otherwise, life was good and I worked with a song ever on my lips. It was, it seemed, destined to go on until the last DB had its borning at Huddersfield...

Ronnie Bray tells of a small accident while he was helping in the production of one of the world's most desirable motor cars.

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April 02, 2013

Mummy-Daddy Years - 7

"Hole in one! No, it’s nothing to do with golf. It has to do with my incompetence, and that reminds me of the time I was
employed by a once famous but now long-gone garage in Milnsbridge from which an attempt was made to fire me for incompetence because I was too competent. How it came about was on this wise,'' writes Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography.

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March 26, 2013

Grace And Disfavour

...She had not married, but lived in single blessedness with her budgerigar, Mickey, who had the freedom of their shared home, a place that was always cheerful and warm...

Ronnie Bray tells of a lady who obtained sweet revenge.

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March 19, 2013

Mummy-Daddy Years - 5

...It was an unusual house, with three bedrooms, a bathroom, a large sitting-living room, a cellar-head kitchen, and a dark, dank cellar that the Mesopotamians had in mind when they described their version of the afterlife...

Ronnie Bray continues his richly-detailed authobiography.
..

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March 12, 2013

Mummy-Daddy Years - 4

...Being a shopkeeper and a dad was almost two full time jobs, but I managed to do both by keeping the living room door open so that Matthew could come and go as I attended to customers and rearranged the shop, something I did regularly to try to make the displays look inviting...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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March 05, 2013

Mummy-Daddy Years - 3

Ronnie Bray reveals that even men of the world make mistakes.

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February 26, 2013

Mummy-Daddy Years - 2

...When Matt was three, he often looked after the shop for me when I went to the grocery store further down Lockwood Road to buy Maltesers for breakfast. Both Matt and I were convinced that candy made a better breakfast than cereal...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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February 19, 2013

1 - Mummy-Daddy Years

...I found a company selling chamois wash-leathers. I bought a dozen and was impressed that these would make a good hard wearing pair of trousers for an active boy. I made them with fringes to add a touch of decoration and the chamois leather pants were made and worn at all suitable occasions...

Ronnie Bray tells of bleak make-do-and-mend days.

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February 12, 2013

The Gerry Years - 9

"It seems as if I have always had to deal with the disagreeable bits of life. I know that I am not the only one, but that does not make it any easier to deal with. Particularly so because for most of my life I was not equipped to handle the downside,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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February 05, 2013

The Gerry Years - 8

Continuing his life story, Ronnie Bray tells of a lady who organised the most expensive funeral that was available.

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January 29, 2013

The Gerry Years - 7

...One day, whilst making this journey, I almost lost my temper as the conductor rang the bell for the bus driver to set off before I was sat down. The sudden forward motion of the bus threw me up the aisle between the seats and I landed heavily and painfully on a side seat. My fury rose...

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, tells of a moment of enlightenment.

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January 22, 2013

The Gerry Years - 6

...The sight of a man with a broken leg standing up on his pillow in a hospital bed in an orthopaedic ward was something to behold...

Ronnie Bray tells of a man who entertained a hospital ward.

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January 15, 2013

The Gerry Years - 5

"There have been many times in my life when a signal has been unfurled before me but I have not read its significance until long after it was able to do me any good..'' writes Ronnie Bray,continuing his autobiography.

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January 08, 2013

The Gerry Years - 4

...Matthew was then fourteen months old and I found him strapped into his high coach built pram in the passageway, soiled, wet, and distraught. He had a pint bottle of ‘Model’ milk in his pram, fitted with a teat, from which he was to feed himself...

Ronnie Bray tells of a failing marriage.

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January 01, 2013

The Gerry Years - 3

Ronnie Bray tells of a failing marriage.

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December 18, 2012

The Gerry Years - 2

Ronnie Bray tells of the Indian birth place of a woman who was to play an important role in his life.

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December 11, 2012

The Gerry Years

Ronnie Bray presents a word-portrait of Southampton, where he lived in the 1960s.

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December 04, 2012

Church Building Mission - 9

...the sun shine from early morning until late at night and should have been a free and easy day of joy with those jewels of my heart whose presence brought me joy unspeakable. Yet, there was to be a terror in the day that no one understands unless he has stood where I have stood, felt what I have felt, and feared what I have feared...

Ronnie Bray tells of a golden day clouded by sudden worry.

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November 27, 2012

Church Building Mission - 8

...The problem was always the sandwiches, and the sandwiches were always BOLOGNA! And the bologna always went through the nearest window...

Some American food was not to Ronnie Bray's taste when he worked on a church building project in Ip[swich.

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November 20, 2012

Church Building Mission - 7

Ronnie Bray tells of a church building supervisor who was given an unexpected instruction.

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November 13, 2012

Church Building Mission - 6

Ronnie Bray recalls learning an important lesson learned from his children during an austere Christmastide.

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November 06, 2012

Church Building Mission - 5

...I stood transfixed; my mind floating over the sea of graves as if to miss one would diminish the sacrifice each of the dead
had made. In death, their voices are more powerful than they were in life, particularly to those who, pausing from their own
concerns, listen to the silent chorus of the dwellers in their graves, and feel the death of the dead...

Ronnie Bray visited a United States war cemetery in Cambridgeshire.

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October 30, 2012

Church Building Mission - 4

Continuing his autobiography, Ronnie Bray tells of a succesful mission to persuade a man to change his mind.

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October 23, 2012

Church Building Mission - 3

Ronnie Bray considers profound matters while cleaning out a drain.

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October 16, 2012

Church Building Mission - 2

..When I arrived at Ipswich the foundations of the meetinghouse had been poured, the arched roof supports had been placed, and the next job was to raise the walls and pour the floors..

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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October 09, 2012

Church Building Mission - 1

Ronnie Bray moves to Ipswich and finds himself living the dream.

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October 02, 2012

Return To Zin - 14

"If you want to know what your infantile protestations and arguments for doing something your mother has stopped you doing when you were two-and -a-half, listen to a drunk plead his cause to the Law.''

Ronnie Bray recalls a bleak and belligerent New Year's Eve.

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September 25, 2012

Return To Zin - 13

Ronnie Bray returns to Bournemouth, hoping to repair his marriage.

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September 18, 2012

Return To Zin - 12

Ronnie Bray tells of a mattiage running into difficulties.

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September 11, 2012

Return To Zin - 11

"Mrs Pollecoff was a small woman, probably in her early seventies, and disabled from a tragic accident in which a donkey jumped out of a field onto the bonnet of their car, killing Mr Pollecoff outright. The height of the floor in the Moggie, as the Minors are affectionately known, was just right for her getting in and out, although it was a struggle for her to get past the folded down front passenger seat even when it was set as far forward as it would go,'' writes Ronnie Bray, continuing his fascinating life story.

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September 04, 2012

Return To Zin - 10

Continuing his autobiography Ronnie Bray recalls working in Bournemoth in the early days of his married life.

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August 28, 2012

Return To Zin - 9

...Mrs Pollecoff was a small woman, probably in her early seventies, and disabled from a tragic accident in which a donkey jumped out of a field onto the bonnet of their car, killing Mr Pollecoff outright...

Ronnie Bray recalls one of his former employers.

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August 21, 2012

Return To Zin - 8

Ronnie Bray tells of his deep aversion to ham.

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August 14, 2012

Return To Zin - 7

Ronnie Bray recalls one of the fights of the century.

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August 07, 2012

Return To Zin - 6

...My week at the guest house ended and my novel was not finished. It wasn’t even started. But then it’s not easy. Authors have to absorb atmosphere, think about life, the universe, the meaning of everything. I did a lot of absorbing and thinking and not much of anything else....

Ronnie Bray recalls the days foillowing his release from prison.

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July 31, 2012

Return To Zin - 5

...Yet, their faces told a different story, showing no dissatisfaction. They were the happy faces of children having a good time with their stranger-father...

Ronnie Bray tells of love and satisfaction, salvaged from poverty.

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July 24, 2012

Return To Zin - 4

"Whilst it is true to say that I have never been fashion’s slave, it would be equally misleading to suggest that I have always been a traditionalist. I have sought to be ‘other’ in fashion as in many other things,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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July 17, 2012

Return To Zin -3

...The children walked in the stream, insouciantly wetting their shoes, listened to the music, dismissed it as too grown up to understand, and asked for ice cream...

Ronnie Bray recalls a day out with his children in Bournemouth.

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July 10, 2012

Return To Zin - 2

"It is unthinkable now, but back in 1961, it was a common problem and anyone who worked in a mill or factory at that time will confirm that fact: workmen’s toilets did not have toilet paper supplied; instead, they used newspapers brought by the workers. That is just the way it was, and they were lucky to have toilets!'' recalls Ronnie Bray.

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July 03, 2012

Return To Zin - 1

Ronnie Bray recalls the help he received from a famous English actor.

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June 26, 2012

7 - From Castle To Dungeon And Out Again

...Whatever it was that turned Mr Taylor against Sue attending services and social activities I was not to discover, but in a short time he made it very plain that he objected, stopped the missionaries from visiting his house, and forbade her to attend any kind of function that had anything to do with the Latter-day Saints...

Ronnie Bray tells of an encounter which confirmed his belief that faith can move mountains.

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June 19, 2012

Froim Castle To Dungeon And Out Again - 6

"The wise do not need an extra day added to the week to get through what needs to be done. The prudent use the time available and apportion it according to the importance of the tasks to be done. The maxim, “If you want a job done, give it to a busy man,” is based on experience and observation,'' writes Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography.

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June 12, 2012

From Castle To Dungeon And Out Again - 5

...Out the big prison doors, walking down Gaol Street in Stafford, clutching a brown paper parcel tied up with string, was something of an ordeal because everyone in the street knew where you had come from...

Ronnie Bray is released from prison.

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June 05, 2012

From Castle To Dungeoh And Out Again - 4

"When I was a young man, I ended up in jail for a spell. When the judge passed sentence, I was immediately burdened with a burning sense of injustice that made me look at everything through hate-coloured glasses. I grew fierce and hard to get along with and took it out on everything and everybody,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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May 29, 2012

From Castle to Dungeon and Out Again - 3

Ronnie Bray recalls the time when he was in prison.

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May 22, 2012

From Castle to Dungeon and Out Again - 2

...They took me, dazed, down the narrow stone stairway to the cells beneath the castle where I sat in a narrow holding cell in deep shock. One of the warders tried to cheer me up, but in spite of him doing his best, I was beyond cheer...

Ronnie Bray is sent to prison.

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May 15, 2012

From Castle To Dungeon And Out Again - 1

...I found accommodation at the Church Army hostel in Southampton and set about looking for work. The Captain who was in charge of the facility was kindness itself, and we often talked about life and my prospects...

Ronnie Bray, recently discharged from the Army, seeks to make a new start in life.

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May 08, 2012

The Army Years - 3

...In a cupboard with an ill-fitting door we were excited to discover sets of canvas fencing suits, long gloves, masked helmets, and an array of swords, inviting us to take them out and do with them what they were meant to be done with. We obliged...

Ronnie Bray recalls with relish a day of "combat'' during his Army service.

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May 01, 2012

A Fool And His Motorcycle Are Soon Parted

"Buying a motorcycle seemed like a good idea, so I bought one. One of my comrades was being shipped abroad, and he had a motorcycle to dispose of. I took it for a test run on the roads round about our camp at Catterick, where we occupied Cambrai Lines,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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April 24, 2012

The Army Years - 1

Ronnie Bray, continuing his life story, tells of rejoining the Army.

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April 10, 2012

The Esmé Years - 15

"When I was a young man, I ended up in jail for a spell. When the judge passed sentence, I was immediately burdened with a burning sense of injustice that made me look at everything through hate-coloured glasses,'' Ronnie Bray tells of the lowest point in his life.

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April 03, 2012

The Esmé Years - 14

When Ronnie Bray tried to play the clarinet he was greeted by the cry of “Will you stop blowing that bloody whistle!”

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March 27, 2012

The Esmé Years - 13

Ronnie Bray tells of a sub-bright day of terror.

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March 20, 2012

The Esmé Years - 12

...The 1960s had hardly begun before skiffle was bouncing off the walls and catching people up in an explosion of its magic. It was free and easy, enjoyable, joy in sound, although some of the songs had dark themes, such as Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, poor boy, you’re going to die… and Freight Train, freight train, going so fast.” It was easy to play, easy to listen to, and easy to enjoy...

Ronnie Bray recalls a time of joyous music.

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March 13, 2012

The Esmee Years - 11

...Andrea Leslie was the most beautiful child – ever! Her plentiful soft dark copper hair framed a face that was luscious in its design and execution. The ultimate in sweetness with no trace of a wrinkle, utterly ‘peaches and cream,’ underpinning the ancient verity, that little girls are made from ‘sugar and spice and all things nice.’...

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, tells of his first experience of New Parent Panic.

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March 06, 2012

The Esmé Years - 10

Ronnie Bray tells of overcoming a dislike of red haired people.

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February 28, 2012

The Esmé Years - 9

"Testing theories prevents a body from committing too many mistakes, especially in the area of pet theories where opinions can be formed and clung to that have no basis in fact,'' says Ronnie Bray, telling of a theory about drinking alone that was thoroughly and extensively disproved.

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February 21, 2012

The Esmé Years - 8

Continuing his autobiogrpahy, Ronnie Bray tells a tale to confirm that one should always get up on time.

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February 14, 2012

The Esmé Years - 7

...Bessie was perfect apart from a little carpet rot, and waterlogged floor panels, which was par for the course in a car of her vintage. She was younger than me by one year but had not worn as well. But she went, and that was all that was important to us...

Ronnie Bray acquires his first car which brings him fun and headaches in equal measure.

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February 07, 2012

The Esmé Years - 6

...Family members in despair often relinquish interest in the stranger who no longer recognises them, and whose memory of their years of love, intimacy, and common pursuits has been plundered by unseen hands that erases the marks of their unique personalities just as completely as a teacher wipes clean a chalkboard at the end of the days lessons...

Ronnie Bray recalls working in a large psychiatric hospital.

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January 31, 2012

The Esmé Years - 5

Ronnie Bray becomes a student psychiatric nurse.

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January 24, 2012

The Esmé Years - 4

Ronnie Bray tells of facing up to the challenge of a defiant steak.

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January 17, 2012

The Esmé Years - 3

Ronnie Bray tells of his first wedding day.

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January 10, 2012

The Esmé Years - 2

Ronnie Bray tells of falling deeply in love.

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January 03, 2012

The Esmé Years - 1

"The problem with living with a closed heart is that it leaves too much to be guessed at, and unless one has extraordinary insight and perception, one is liable to guess wrong.'' writes Ronnie Bray, telling of a difficult time in his life.

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December 27, 2011

Being A Missionary - 8

Ronnie Bray tells of a chance encounter and a sad ending.

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December 20, 2011

Being A Missionary - 7

Ronnie Bray recalls an encounter with a gentleman of the road.

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December 13, 2011

Being A Missionary - 6

"For reasons strictly connected with youthful vanity and a complete lack of good sense, I decided to dye my hair,'' writes Ronnie Bray.

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December 06, 2011

Being A Missionary - 5

...His only Nemesis, apart from wayward golf clubs, and errant children, has been a computer that set its cap against him and did the most extraordinary things for no apparent reason...

Ronnie Bray tells of his fellow missionary, "Suits McEwen''.

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November 29, 2011

Being A Missionary - 4

...All my shirts went all pink, except for the one that had started out as pale blue, and that one turned an interesting shade of heliotrope. Not only were my shirts pink, but so was my underwear, and my light coloured hose had taken on a decidedly pinkish hue overlaid on whatever colour they had originally been...

Ronnie Bray continues his engaging life story.

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November 22, 2011

Being A Missionary - 3

Ronnie Bray recalls his missionary days in Southampton.

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November 15, 2011

Being A Massionary - 2

A young Ronnie Bray goes as a missionary to Southampton.

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November 08, 2011

Being A Missionary - 1

"Being a missionary was hard,'' writes Ronnie Bray. "Military discipline had prepared me for most of the self-discipline necessary to be a successful missionary, although I still lacked some aspects of character that did not tuck away some of the many sharp angles of my personality. These were a long term project!''

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November 01, 2011

Work -15

...A strong faith is of great comfort. As Joseph Smith said, “While we weep, we do not weep as those without hope.” Religion had taken over my life and infused it with new meanings. I took it seriously, reinterpreting life and myself in new ways...

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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October 18, 2011

Work - 13

Continuing his life story, Ronnie Bray recalls working with a rugby league star.

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October 11, 2011

Work - 12

...This was during the time that my mother started baking again. Her teacakes were the size of a small beret, the weight of a medium brick, and the density of concrete. However, they were substantial and one of them went a long way...

Ronnie Bray continues his engaging autobiography.

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October 04, 2011

Work - 11

"When I moved to Sharratt's, my religious observances were seen as aberrant and unacceptable behaviour for rough folks in rough employment. After I had been working there three days, I was sitting at my machine taking off newly-pressed house bricks, when I was approached by the resident thug demanding to know if I was “religious.” I replied in the affirmative, whereupon he invited me to fight him. To my surprise, I accepted his invitation without flinching...''

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

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September 27, 2011

Work - 10

...The brickyard was a veritable treasure-trove of some of the most remarkable characters I have ever met. But, I come not to memorialise those worthies, but to tell about Brickyard Cricket...

Ronnie Bray continues his entertaining autobiography.

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September 20, 2011

Work - 9

...When the chambers were broken open – reminiscent of Howard Carter opening the Tomb of Tutankhamen – the heat would still be intense, so the drawers wore leather guards over their fingers and thumbs. Everyone wore clogs in the brickyard as protection against the heat from the kiln floors...

Ronnie Bray goes to work in a brickyard.

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September 13, 2011

Work - 8

...The warehouse smelled of wonderful things. Sides of smoked bacon, sacks of Demerara sugar, sacks of currants, raisins, and sultanas, and a hundred other spicy odours from goods exposed to the air.,,

Ronnie Bray recalls his time as a driver's mate.

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September 06, 2011

Work - 7

...This morning I kept an eagle eye on Jim and his perpetual light. Taking out a long red-ended match, he struck it and applied it to the string wick. The wick lit briefly then went out. I knew I was on to something. He took out another precious match and striking it applied it to the wick. This lit even more briefly than before and then dimmed to darkness. Jim began striking matches and trying to light the lamp, but by now, the wick would not even take light...

Ronnie Bray tells how he set a trap for a paraffin thief.

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August 30, 2011

Work - 6

...Huge furnaces melted tons of pig iron into white liquid ten times hotter than Hades’ place. This was spewed out down a channel by a furnace-master who filled the mighty steel cauldrons in which giant overhead cranes took tons of molten metal in giant ladles to the huge moulds laid out at various parts of the foundry’s dusty floor....

Continuing his autobiography, Ronnie Bray tells of moving to a new job in a foundry.

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August 23, 2011

Work -5

"My regular barber was just round the corner from Westgate, opposite Sparrow Park on Upperhead Row. There was one style, and the coiffure was topped-off by a generous helping of ‘Fixative,’ an early type of epoxy resin that set the hair like Welgar Shredded Wheat. Nor rain, nor hail, nor snow, nor any wind could move the hair dosed with this primitive super-glue,'' recalls Ronnie Bray.

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August 16, 2011

Work -3

...Michael was just a little bit embarrassed at asking us to wait outside because he knew that in Poland the custom was to bring visitors and friends into the house, especially on cold, dark nights in inner city suburbs. Not that Halifax is a city, but you get the point.

To ameliorate our potential discomfort, which was swiftly realised, he handed each of us a cigarette...

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, tells of coughing fits on a misty wet night.

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August 09, 2011

Work - 2

...All weavers could lip read; it was the only way they could communicate. I never learned to lip read, but I did learn to shout. The obvious benefit to me was that I could sing at the top of my voice all the workday long. I loved it. The elderly lady weavers took to me because I was always cheerful and willing...

Ronnie Bray recalls his early days in a textiule mill.

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August 04, 2011

Customer Service

...I had the same trouble with a Bex-Bissel Steam Carpet Cleaner. The black powder that came out from its underside told me that the commutator was chewing its carbon brushes up. If they would supply me with new brushes, for which I would pay, then I would rub smooth the commutator, replace the brushes, and carry on carpet cleaning. They told me to take it to their service agent for inspection and report.

I checked with their service agent and he quoted me $25.00 for inspection and report. I explained that I knew the problem and how to fix it and if he would supply the brushes I would take care of it, but wouldn’t pay $25.00 to be told what I already knew...

Ronnie Bray tells of customer service - good and bad.

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August 02, 2011

Work - 1

"Work - whoever invented it left a lot of it lying about!'' says Ronnie Bray.

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July 26, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 14

Ronnie Bray reflects upon his teenage year

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July 19, 2011

Youth And Confusion 13

...Now, if Pete’s mother, Ethel, or my mother, Louie, had formulated the warning as, “Don’t play with live ammunition, and especially don’t stick a bullet down a crack in the pavement and hit a poker with a coal hammer to try to set it off!” then we would probably have thrown the shiny treasure in the lake at TP Woods for the big pike, reputed to be ten feet long, to nibble on. But neither of our dams said anything remotely like that...

Ronnie Bray recalls a boyhood encounter with live ammo.

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July 12, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 12

...On Saturday nights I paid my shilling, climbed up to the gods – so called from the celestial beings painted on the exalted ceiling a few feet from the top of my head – sat on one of the wooden benches with other poor but equally ardent patrons, and entered the world of entertainment at its very best...

Ronnie Bray recalls the stars who brought happy music hall days.

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July 05, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 11

Ronnie Bray recalls the violent joy of brickyard cricket.

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June 28, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 10

"Music has been for me an escape: a sky-brushing thermal, lifting me on eagle wings above the din and discontent of life, to realms of joy and beauty unspoiled by harshness of word, or meanness of spirit,'' declares Ronnie Bray.

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June 21, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 9

...The wood was blond and varnished to a high shine, the fingerboard was inlaid with delicate traceries of nacre, the edge of the soundboard was trimmed aorund with inlaid mother-of-pearl in an exquisite pattern, and the sound hole was ringed around with a delicious and intricate ornamentation of pearl, ivory, and ebony to form a bejewelled mouth through which the romantic tones of traditional Flamenco must soon pour forth to fill the air with melodic consecrations – as soon as I figured out how to work it!...

Ronnie Bray recalls finding his first guitar in a dustbin.

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June 14, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 8

...Thus, once more, music came to rescue me from the disappointments and negative aspects of my young life. I did not know it then, but it developed in me a taste that was to enrich my days for the rest of my mortal stay. Even in the darkening days of old age, music quickens my pulse, pleases my mind, warms my heart, and causes my spirit to soar...

Ronnie Bray tells of tuning in to melodic sounds.

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June 07, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 7

...Only on Sundays were breakfasts cooked from scratch. Sunday was a special day; the day of fried eggs and bacon. Even in my rooftop haunt, I could smell Sunday, as its special aroma drifted upwards through the house. However, on common days, the breakfasts were piled into the ageing Creda cooker the night before to await a flick of the ‘on’ switch...

Ronnie Bray recalls the day when a good deed turned into a disaster.

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May 31, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 6

...It was in the fields around Pete’s house that I took my first motor cycle for a rough ride. This shook the ignition timing all over the place and the bike never went again under my ownership...

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, recalls his first motorcycle.

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May 24, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 5

...Liquid paradise entered my mouth and I imagined I had discovered the reason I had been born...

Ronnie Bray, continuing his life story, extols the delights of Doctor Dan Holdroyd's Drink of Health.

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May 17, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 4

...When we lit up in public, heads turned to see what was on fire. We didn’t keep on smoking the stuff for long because when we had the cigarettes (if it be lawful to call them that) in our mouths, a mere tilting of the head backwards caused the contents of the Rizla tube to slide rapidly into our mouths...

Ronnie Bray recalls youthful smoking experiments.

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May 10, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 3

...In those days, no one spoke loud in Farnley Tyas, and most of those who spoke at all were nigh on impossible to understand. Farnley Tyas was known as a ‘broad’ village whose hard working inhabitants held country ways and country values long after other villages succumbed to customs that are more modern. It was, and still is, a good place to find an outstanding meal in its ancient hostelry...

Ronnie Bray recalls sunshine and happy hours in a village near Huddersfield, his home town.

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May 03, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 2

...Long live Laurel and Hardy! Long live all those who recognise the sorry condition of the common people, and take a little time to make it better, or else to help us to laugh at our own suffering...

Ronnie Bray tells of his love affair with films.

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April 26, 2011

Youth And Confusion - 1

...one of my delights was to go to the Lounge up Newsome Road to see a short ‘B’ western which could be Johnny Mack Brown or Hopalong Cassidy or Eddy Dean or Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, or any other well-dressed, square-jawed, upright, no-nonsense, and no romance heroes of the Old West. I knew their horses as well as I knew them, could describe their guns, hats, boots, and spurs. These were real heroes....

Ronnie Bray recalls his early cinema-going days.

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April 19, 2011

Rites of Passage And Dragon Slaying

...Sundays were different days. Morning broke with no sound in the streets and little stirring in the house. On weekdays and Saturdays my granddad woke before the whole household and went down to scrape the grate out, lay the fire and get it going. He would then turn on the oven to warm up the lodgers’ breakfasts. On Sunday, everything took place later. The aroma of Sunday was bacon and eggs cooking. The smell travelled through the house. Even today, bacon and eggs only seem right on Sundays. In many ways, I continue to be locked into my childhood...

Ronnie Bray looks back on his adolescent days.

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April 05, 2011

Faith Lost And Found - 3

...As I put my hand on the doorknob to enter the meeting room, a very curious thing happened. I experienced a blinding flash of warmth and light and heard myself say, “I am going to be one of these people.” Who or what these people were I had no idea. Composing myself, I entered the room...

Ronnie Bray attended a service that was to change the course of his life.

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March 29, 2011

Faith Lost And Found - 2

...I attended a meeting of a spiritualist church down Kirkgate above the Army Recruiting Office. The sign on the wall read “No Prophesying,” and “Silver Collection.”...

As a teenager Ronnie Bray found himself visiting a variety of churches'.

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March 22, 2011

Faith Lost and Found -1

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, tells how he became an atheist in his teens.

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March 15, 2011

Back To Normal

Ronnie Bray returns to civvy street.

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March 08, 2011

The Jewel Of The Med

...Cyprus has been called The Jewel of the Mediterranean, and is richly deserving of that honour. After the endless sand and rock of Egypt, its greenness seemed unreal. To drive in an open-topped vehicle along the roads that dissected the citrus groves was to smell the scent of Elysium...

Ronnie Bray continues his account of military service on an idyllic island.

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March 01, 2011

The Motor Cycle Affair

...First, I surveyed the damaged bits and pieces. The wheels were buckled, the frame bent, the tank dented, and the engine and its external controls severely damaged. It was obvious to a fool that it was beyond repair and the kindest course would have been to let it rust in the well or to give it a decent burial...

But Ronnie Bray, serving in Cyprus with the British Army, was ordered by his commanding officer to be the stolen motor bike back together again.

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February 22, 2011

Not On My Shield, But...

Ronnie Bray tells of the day he left the British Army.

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February 15, 2011

A Squeeze of Lemonade

...A double sized mattress was dragged into the square on which young mothers rolled their babies to make the marriage bed fertile. Others pinned paper money onto the gown and suit of the couple and the afternoon sped away into the evening when we sat at trestle tables to eat
the feast...

While serving in the British Army in Cyprus Ronnie Bray was a guest at the wedding of a village taylor.

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February 08, 2011

Friends And Foes

...Cyprus has been called The Jewel of the Mediterranean, and is richly deserving of that honour. After the endless sand and rock of Egypt, its greenness seemed unreal. To drive in an open-topped vehicle along the roads that dissected the citrus groves was to smell the scent of Elysium: incredible, heady, intoxicating, and refreshing, the overwhelming fragrance was at once disturbing and enticing...

Ronnie Bray recalls his military service in Cyprus.

For earlier episodes of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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February 01, 2011

Mental Arithmetic

...Arithmetic has never been my strong point. I usually managed to keep off the bottom of annual examinations at
Spring Grove School only because Mary Appleyard usually got none and I managed two more than her...

Ronnie Bray continues his engaging autobiography. To read earlier episodes please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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January 25, 2011

The High Jump

...In all my attempts at the high jump I barely left a mark, unless you count the time when two triangular tubes of aluminium were tied in the middle with string to make a longer bar, and as I sailed – I use the word in its loosest sense – across it I caught the seat of my flimsy PT shorts on the end of the top tube and suffered a 'wardrobe malfunction.'...

But the highest Ronnie Bray ever jumped was when he trod on something squishy during his Army service in Cyprus.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's entertaining autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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January 18, 2011

As You Like It

...the worst that happened to me was the bomb thrown over the perimeter wire when I was on night patrol inside the Dhekelia workshop. The fact that the bomb failed to detonate merely added to my conviction that I was immortal. Ah, the dreams of youth!...

Ronnie Bray recalls serving in the British Army in Cyprus during troubled times.

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January 11, 2011

The Little Fisherman

...He expressed himself in remarkably good English with charming and poetic fluidity, rescuing me from the necessity of having to speak in my version of Greek. His talk and manner revealed that here was a man strangely wise and profoundly serious...

Ronnie Bray dedicates this episode of his autobiography to his friend Andréas, The Little Fisherman of Larnaca.

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January 04, 2011

I See The Moon

...Next to Moses’ shop was a cycle rental shop that rented bicycles to soldiers for the trifling sum of half-a-crown a week. The bikes were new, shining, and cheap. After walking over the mountain, down the valley and into Pyla village a few times, I invested in the bike hirer’s business, and that made my visits easier and quicker. At least, getting down into the village was quicker, but coming back up the narrow stony paths was always a challenge...

Ronnie Bray tells of a narrow escape from disaster during his year of serving in Cyprus with the British Army.

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December 28, 2010

A Youthful Ministry

...Some unlikely groups of soldiers invited me to their barrack room or tent to read from the gospels and to pray for them at Christmas time. It did seem somewhat incongruous to call a mere lad to minister, when the Anglican Chaplain had an office in the camp and was available and willing to help. Perhaps I was less daunting or more approachable...

Ronnie Bray tells of being faithful to his beliefs during army service.

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December 21, 2010

Donkeys, Computers And Human Hearts

What do donkeys, computers, and human hearts have in common? To find the answer to that question involves reading this most enjoyable episode from Ronnie Bray's autobiography.

To read earlier episodes please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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December 14, 2010

The Prayer Meeting

...I have always been thoroughly convinced that people of faith can get along and be blessings to each other by sharing what they have in common instead of forging assault weapons out of their differences....

Ronnie Bray kept his Christian faith alive while serving in the Army.

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December 07, 2010

A Bird In The Hand

...One night, I decided that I would run the eleven miles into Larnaca and then run back: a total distance of twenty-two miles.

As I set out, dusk lay heavy on the day, its pearly light bathing the landscape, reducing to almost nothing the normal indicators of once familiar locations...

Ronnie Bray tells of going on a long-distance run while serving in Cyprus withe the Army - a run which resulted in an encounter he has never forgotten.

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November 30, 2010

In The Footsteps Of A Hero

...I boarded ship with a sense of triumph: happy to escape the mind-numbing ennui of the compound. The Empire Shelter was tidy, small, and functional, but big enough to swallow several hundred squaddies as we wheeled out of the harbour, churned through the muddy waters of the delta, and throbbed northwards through the postcard-blue waters of the Mediterranean toward Cyprus...

But Ronnie Bray soon discovered that he was no sailor.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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November 23, 2010

As a Man Drinketh So is He

Ronnie Bray tells of an "iron therapy'' administered to a sodlier who had consumed too much Tiger beer.

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November 16, 2010

Ægypt - 2

...Life in Suez was an easy-going affair with a minimum amount of work and a lot of leisure time that was often hard to fill...

Ronnie Bray continues his recollections of serving with the British Army in Egypt.

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November 09, 2010

Ægypt - 1

...As I walked through the aeroplane door to go down the steps wheeled up to its side just behind the wing on which the huge pod of the left side engine was mounted, I felt the searing, almost unbearable heat. I conjectured that the engine was the cause of the heat, but as I climbed down the stairs emitting inane sounds, such as “Phew,” “Hecky thump,” “By gum,” and other North Country expletives...

Ronnie Bray, serving his Queen and country in their Army, arrives in Egypt.

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November 02, 2010

Goodge Street Deep Shelter

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October 26, 2010

Jack-a-Frost!

Ronnie Bray recalls recalls the fundamental message he recieved when he was offered a lift in a Rolls Royce.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on a http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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October 19, 2010

Night School

...The elocution was a different matter, and they had to break my jaw, move my epiglottis, and do something inside my brain with a brass stair rod wired up to a toaster socket before I could form vowels unlike those they do in Yorkshire...

Thirsting for education, Ronnie Bray enrolled in night classes to study elocution and Spanish.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's entertaining autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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October 12, 2010

Private Jubb RPC

...We sat in a corner of the NAAFI away from prying eyes and flapping ears as I became the voice for his true love...

Ronnie Bray tells how he became the letter writer for an Army friend.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's richly engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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October 05, 2010

Easing The Pangs

...As every blue-blooded Yorkshireman knows, somewhere in the Bible there is an edict stipulating that “The meals of the day thereof shall be four, namely breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, and cursed be he who does not partake!” Not wishing to be accursed, I have made it a life rule to be obedient to the decree. Imagine, if you will, my utter disbelief to discover that after dishing out the tea meal, the cookhouse shut down for the night! No supper! Ever! Argh!...

Ronnie Bray tells how an Army meal deficiency was cunningly remedied.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please visit
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Easing The Pangs" »

September 28, 2010

Jangling Days

...It is due almost entirely to the sense of immortality and ignorance with which young men are hereditarily infected that we did not sense the dangers to ourselves and to others as we hurtled round the countryside in our metal monsters with no intimation that anything could ever go wrong...

While serving in the Army Ronnie Bray was introduced to the exciting "sport'' of jangling.

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September 21, 2010

Three ‘Alves

When it came time for Padre's Hour Ronnie Bray learned that the British Army has three halves.

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September 14, 2010

Drawing Lines

...Nights when the money ran short for extra food were hungry times. We took to invading the cookhouse store, carrying back two-pound loaves, slabs of butter, and seven-pound tins of marmalade. Feast followed! We had the stealth of the SAS, we imagined. For some reason, we did not question the honesty of it. One of the problems the Christian must face is where to draw the line, and at that time I drew it well away from where it should have been...

Ronnie Bray continues his reminiscences of a life in uniform.

To enjoy more of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Drawing Lines" »

September 07, 2010

Goons

Recalling his Army days, Ronnie Bray thinks of Goons and boots.

To read more of Ronnie's entrancing autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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August 31, 2010

To War And Arms I Fly

...Our workshop heads were all first class warrant officers - Artificer Sergeant Majors - the most unsoldierly group of soldiers in the British Army. Dishevelled properly describes their dress and deportment when on duty.

They were not engaged for their military skill, but for their mechanical and electrical skill, and they were chock-full of knowledge and incredible abilities...

Ronnie Bray recalls a happy army posting.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's gloriously readable autobiography please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "To War And Arms I Fly" »

August 24, 2010

Snail Salad

Ronnie Bray gives a "tasty'' account of how he dexterously dealt with an unusual mealtime problem.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's wonderful autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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August 17, 2010

A Strapping Lad

....The ‘standard required’ was exclusively related to foot drill, as marching was called, on the barrack square – the most hated place – and to the order of our uniform and related equipment. Boots were a particular focus of attention from the munchkins trusted with our care and attention, and unless the toe caps of one’s ‘best boots’ shone like enamelled ebony, one was introduced to a vocabulary that not only exceeded Shakespeare’s, but was also as inaccessible as Chaucer’s except to the initiated...

Ronnie Bray tells of dogged Army days at a camp called Borden.

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August 10, 2010

The Rack

"If I had known when I took the Queen’s Oath about weekend travel back to camp, I might have joined the Royal Navy!'' writes ex-soldier Ronnie Bray, recalling the night he submitted his body to The Rack.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's wonderfully entertaining autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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August 03, 2010

Sleep Is A Reconciling

...The wagon screamed off into the discouraging pre-dawn emptiness and I was left alone in the deafening silence of nowhere. I stood behind the wall listening to sweet birdsong as the dawn rose sluggishly through the misty trees and bushes surrounding my post. As daylight poured its leaden light into my small corner, I could see that I was perhaps thirty feet from a lodge at the entrance of a large estate.

I faced the narrow ribbon of road, across which the enemy was to attempt to breach my bastion, and I stared into the greyness....

Ronnie Bray recalls one of his most uncomfortable nights.

To read earlier episodes from Ronnie's fascinating autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Sleep Is A Reconciling" »

July 27, 2010

Padres’ Hour

...The Roman Catholics and Anglicans were always catered for, but the rest of the Army’s spiritual welfare was given over to neglect...

Ronnie Bray tells of an occasion when he refused to enter a chapel.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Padres’ Hour" »

July 20, 2010

Card Schools

...There was a rich vein of humour among the soldiers. Probably the humour got us through the hard times. It was observed that the Army was always ‘getting a grip.’ That meant tightening up on discipline. It could be perceived that our lives were getting harder all the time. In reality, the only way to stop things slipping backwards is to constantly keep tightening up...

Ronnie Bray continues his oh-so-readable autobbiography. To reach earlier episodes please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Card Schools" »

July 13, 2010

Is Ellesmere Burning?

...Being out all night on guard duty imposed obligations on the inhabitants of our hut to seize and deliver all combustible items from whatever source, quickly, quietly, and secretively. It is only from the benefit of fifty and more years that I recognise that we were set to guard the camp, but were actually doing more damage than unlawful trespassers were likely to have done...

Ronnie Bray recalls how a group of young soldiers at a training camp coped with a long hard winter.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's entertaining autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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July 06, 2010

The Potman Cometh - Adventures In Sand And Cement

The walls which Ronnie Bray built while serving in the Army all came tumbling down.

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June 29, 2010

X Platoon

...The history of Barton Stacey covers over 4,000 years
with evidence from Neolithic tribes, through Romans,
Saxons, and Normans - and then there was me!...

Ronnie Bray tells how he became a member of X Platoon, learning to drive Army-style.

To read more of Ronnie's exhilirating autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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June 22, 2010

Whitewash

...The day was sunnybright, as Indian Summer September days will be. The sky was stunning cerulean blue, and the air heavy with the smell of harvest home. A thousand soldiers stood waiting for the event to begin. The band was doing something musical at the far side of the square, but my attention was drawn to a hatless man in olive drab fatigues, carrying a bucket in one hand and an eight-inch paint brush in the other...

Ronnie Bray brings another insight into "Army thinking''.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's sparkling autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Continue reading "Whitewash" »

June 15, 2010

Fletcher’s Haircuts

...So that none of us soldiers would ever be out of fashion, the Army kindly employed camp barbers in the camp barbershop, where each soldier was required on pain of death to attend for a scalping every two weeks. The barbers were rejects from sheep shearing stations and it showed. To keep these barbers in the manner to which they had become accustomed, we had a shilling deducted from our pay every two weeks...

But poor Fletcher received little benefit from a visit to the barber, as Ronnie Bray reveals.

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June 08, 2010

Are You Fit Enough to See the Doctor?

You had to be extremely fit to be ill in the Army, Ronnie Bray recalls.

To read more of Ronnie's wonderfully entertaining autobiography please click on
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June 01, 2010

The Army Takes Over My Life

Life was cardboard, squareness, cleanliness, and routine, routine, routine, says Ronnie Bray about his early life in the Army. "Army life is hell for the lazy.''

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May 25, 2010

Work is a Blessing – Right?

Ronnie Bray, continuing his autobiography, tells of an accident while doing a menial task in the army camp where he did his basic training.

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May 18, 2010

Even Death Could Not Kill Us!

...Most of us spent the evening swinging from the ‘A’ frame rafters supporting the hut roof. Looking more like monkeys than young men. We did it to prove what we knew ourselves, that we were immortal and to show that death could not kill us, nor Hell or the fear of it hold us down...

But Ronnie Bray and his fellow army recruits found out that those four-shots-in-a-day were effective.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography pleaase click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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May 11, 2010

I’m Tommy Atkins, I Am

...In quiet, solitary moments, when the dust of the day has settled, even the most perverse of personalities may slip into reverie and share the contents of their innermost soul with a good listener. I had religion; most soldiers did not..

Ronnie Bray tells how he became the auditor of the chorus of soldiers' souls

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May 04, 2010

The Barrack Square

...He viewed our approach with nothing short of disdain, his face speaking unmistakably that he had seen it all before and didn’t like it at all! Like a mighty Army he approached us, gave us the once over – which was a bit like being given the once over with a welding torch, and told us not only that he had reservations about the marital standing of our parents, but also that he doubted whether worse specimens of humanity had ever dared venture on to his parade ground...

Ronnie Bray recalls his first encounter with a drill sergeant on the barrack square.

Top read more of Ronnie's entertaining autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/


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April 27, 2010

About This Army Thing

...I freely confess that the initial impact the army had on me was more than a little terrifying. I had heard tales and seen moving pictures of soldiers at war, noted the deep camaraderie between service men, thrilled at the glory and glamour of brave deeds done under conditions of ambuscade and bombardment, and thought I might enjoy that kind of thing. Reality was nothing like the picture of worthy soldiers and appreciative NCOs and officers that my feeble mind had created...

Ronnie Bray muses on the nature of Army life.

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April 20, 2010

When I Am In The South Lands

...At some unearthly hour, a monster entered our barrack room where twenty of us lay deep in the arms of Morpheus. The noise he made was straight from the realm of Satan. Unnerved and terrified we leaped and somersaulted from our beds in various stages of consciousness, to discover the genesis of our discomfiture. It was – strike a minor discord - the Drill Sergeant!...

Ronnie Bray recalls his early days in the Army.

To read earlier chapters in Ronnie's life story please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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April 13, 2010

Re-Enlisting

...I remember almost being run over by a silent camel as I lay on the cooling desert floor by the shore of the Red Sea watching towards the jebels for danger, but failing to hear or see the rider coming from my left in the twilight’s dim, and I recall how still and silent I lay until rider and steed were no more than a dark patch in the Cimmerian curtain of night and I could breathe again...

Ronnie Bray remembers in detail his army service - even though the military authorities failed to do so.

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April 06, 2010

In The Army - Early Days

...I took the Queen’s shilling. From that hour, I was hers
to do with me as she willed. I found that she willed a lot
and that she had a lot of help!...

Ronnie Bray begins an entertaining account of his days in uniform - "to jog memories and persuade the medals officer to send me my gongs.''

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March 30, 2010

Peace

...There was an air of joyous realisation, exaltation, as the golden sun warmed away five years of care and triumphant sounds spilled into the bright blue air from the bandstand in Greenhead Park. This was a great time to be alive...

Ronnie Bray tells of the coming of peace at the the end of World War Two - and of a much greater peace.

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March 23, 2010

Cinderella Children

...For a short time, I tasted the sweetness of being regarded as an object of pity, and that was the allure of being a Cinderella Child...

Ronnie Bray tells of a small wartime effort to help children whose fathers were serving in the armed forces or died in the conflict.

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March 16, 2010

Late For School

Ronnie Bray tells of an "inventive excuse'' which happened to be true.

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March 09, 2010

Air Raid Warnings – Real and Imaginary

Ronnie Bray tells of improvised air raid procedures during World War Two.

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March 02, 2010

Sweet Coupons

...I got my first pair of clogs that year. How I loved the ‘clip-clop’ they made as I walked on the sandstone flagstones that paved old Huddersfield. They were particularly impressive on the cobblestone roads. The glorious summer of 1947 was paid for by the atrocious winter of 1947. It snowed froze, snowed again, and froze again. The snow froze so hard that it was possible to walk on the surface of the piled up snow. Wearing clogs with clog-irons fitted caused impacted snow to collect under the clog, often raising it to a height of a foot. I walked tall that winter...

Ronnie Bray recalls the austere years of wartime and its aftermath.

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February 23, 2010

Signs Of War

...Decorative iron gates were removed from front and back gardens, railings and balustrades taken down and hauled off with only molten stumps to remind us where they had been. At one fell swoop, the gorgeous artistic ironwork of Victorian Huddersfield vanished overnight...

Ronnie Bray tells of unfamiliar events in a Yorkshire mill town at the onset of World War Two.

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February 16, 2010

Telegram Boys

...Telegram boys rode bright red bicycles and visited ordinary working-folks’ homes only with bad news. The well off might use them for everyday correspondence, but the poor knew only too well that the shadow of the Telegram boy across the front door window meant that a loved one, husband, father, or son had either been killed in action, or else, and in many ways worse, was missing in action or missing presumed dead...

Ronnie Bray recalls sombre times.

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February 09, 2010

War!

Five-year-old Ronnie Bray had only a vague understanding of the significance of the onset of war.

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February 02, 2010

Huttersfield

...The slow rate of passing trade brought out the shopkeeper to sit with us. He ignored Eric and me, but engaged Alfie in animated conversation well within earshot of we two Tykes who were mostly busy wrapping our lips around bottle necks and melting cornets. And that is how it might have remained until it was time for us to press forward on our joyful journey, had not the proprietor asked Alfie where we were from.

“Huddersfield,” said Alfie. The shopkeeper’s response from that moment made Eric and me disgrace ourselves, for he echoed Alfie’s naming of our hometown but pronounced it as “Huttersfield.”...

Ronnie Bray and his friend a driven to boyish fits of uncontrolable laughter by the mispronunication of the name of their home town.

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January 26, 2010

Getting Out Of The House

...In childhood, barriers to egress were the symptoms of parental anxieties of what might happen to their ingenuous offspring when abroad in the world without their flawless guidance. They imagined peril in every footstep, blood spilled from amorphous but inevitable accidents, and death standing mockingly in the shadows, beckoning their young with a skeletal finger and skullish grin...

Ronnie Bray recalls the questioning he had to undergo in boyhood before being allowed to go out to play.

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January 19, 2010

Upset And Mismatch

Ronnie Bray recalls childhood games from a less-affluent age.

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January 12, 2010

Göbbels Flunks the ‘Ballet Egyptien’ Test

...Wilson Keppel and Betty are among the stars of my younger life, because theirs was one of the greatest gifts that one human being can bestow on another – the Gift of Laughter...

Ronnie Bray recalls with a smile on his face a music-hall trio known as The Sun Dancers - a trio accused by that horrid Nazi propagandist Joseph Göbbels of underminging the morals of German youth.

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January 05, 2010

Peas, Perfect Peas

Ronnie Bray reveals to the Epicurean world the delights of a Yorkshire delicacy, mushy peas.

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December 29, 2009

Hope Bank - Symbol of the Vanishing Past

...Music blared over loudspeakers suspended from the ceiling, and a small bar sold small bottles of pop and bags of Smith’s crisps, the only crisps I remember eating until I was much older. Inside each bag of crisps was a twist of waxed blue paper with a pinch of salt inside, to sprinkle on the crisps, clutch the top of the bag and shake to distribute the sale over the crisps. I can still taste them when I think about them, and they have never been bettered...

Ronnie Bray recalls a small pleasure park which provided many hours of joy in a less-complicated age.

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December 22, 2009

The Wardrobe

Ronnie Bray recalls a dark brown polished wardrobe "that maintained silent vigil in the hallway outside the doorway of Nanny’s inner sanctum. Although it was locked, the key, complete with the patina of almost a century of age, stood in its ancient brownness in the lock. In spite of that, it was tacitly understood that it was out of bounds to inquisitive eyes.''

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December 15, 2009

Clogs And Long Trousers

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December 08, 2009

Farnley Tyas

...All my few memories of the all too brief hours spent at the caravan are of sunshine and smiles, as the normal cares of life were for an hour or so, forgotten, and it was possible to see occasional flashes of humanity in those who ruled my life...

Ronnie Bray recalls with affection visits to a village some miles from the Yorkshire industrial town in which he grew up.

To read earlir chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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December 01, 2009

Pleasant Journeys

...We always stopped in the middle to stare down into the murky waters. When crossing by myself, I always did the same. As much as an hour could be lost gazing into the stream while considering the meaning of life, the universe, and everything...

Ronnie Bray tells of a passage pf escape.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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November 24, 2009

Medomsley Days

...Like most country folks, they could not cut their farming ties and so they kept a pig to fatten and a yard full of hens. It was a small quaint house built of small red bricks made in ancient times. What remained of the farm had that comforting smell of permanence and the tangible memory of deep roots, settled customs, and country manners...

Ronnie Bray recalls a joyous boyhood holiday in County Durham.

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November 17, 2009

Alien Places

...I have never visited any place where I could not happily dwell, nor where there has been a failure of bliss....

Ronnie Bray continues his engaging autobiography. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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November 10, 2009

He Sees The Meanest Sparrow Fall

...I broke the rifle, which cocked the mechanism, and placed a pellet in the breech, then took careless aim at a sparrow on a branch high in an elm tree. A short, sharp ‘phut!’ and the sparrow fell dead onto the flags that paved the yard. I was staggered and deeply ashamed...

Ronnie Bray recalls his greatest day of shame.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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November 03, 2009

Gardening

Ronnie Bray recalls his frustrated attempts at gardening.

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October 27, 2009

Necropolis

...Some graves were overwhelmed with flowers and other signs of attention, whilst others were forgotten and long-neglected, as if all that knew the person interred in those desolate spots had also passed, leaving none to care or continue to hold them in memory.

Moved by the awful desolation and neglect of these scenes, we busied ourselves taking flowers from graves where there were many and putting them on graves where there were none...

Ronnie Bray tells of his early attempt to right what he saw as an injustice.

To read more of Ronnie's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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October 20, 2009

Special Places

...Although I did not understand death, I had some uncertainty about how 'dead' the departed really were. Childhood was full of spirits, most of them malevolent, lingering around their crumbling tombs. Our play space was the narrow strips of grass between graves. We never walked on graves out of respect for the dead, but most of all from dread fear of them...

Ronnie Bray recalls the day he saw a ghost in the churchyard.

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October 13, 2009

Vox Populi Vox Deus

...Getting my new bike was timely because the urbane Walter Fox and I were planning to take a cycling holiday to Scarborough and brave it under canvas. Planning is probably not the right description for our preparation. We made the decision to go and went...

Delving into his well-stocked storehouse of memories Ronnie Bray tells of a boyhood cycling holiday in Scarborough.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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October 06, 2009

Veterinary Thaumaturgy – Almost!

...One day, I was walking to my home in Fitzwilliam Street from town having decided to go through the Wood Yard, I happened upon an interesting little jute sack tied at the neck. Picking it up and on opening it, I found three dead puppies. They were still warm, so I knew that they had not been dead for long and would not be hard to resurrect...

Ronnie Bray tells of discovering life's harshest fact.

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September 29, 2009

A Good Book Is The Life Blood

...I also bought a Foulsham’s book on jujitsu written by Professor Yukio Tani. I was deeply impressed that he had, the book said, disabled twenty armed and determined attackers using the skills he now shared with the readers...

Ronnie Bray tells of early reading days.

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September 22, 2009

The Failed Alchemist

...I deftly struck a match and lit the magnesium strip.

Once it had taken hold it burned with a fierce white light that, when it reached my cocktail, set it alight with a brilliant flash accompanied with the most smoke I had ever seen all at once in a single place...

Ronnie Bray discovered at an early age that he was no alchemist.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on
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Continue reading "The Failed Alchemist" »

September 15, 2009

Marconi Made It Look So Easy!

...What a few wires and terminal will do when they are connected and have the right components in their proper places. How the world shrinks as distance evaporates and the far away is brought into our very ears. That is the wonder of radio, and that is one of the major wonders that thrilled me as a boy when I heard a wireless set pour its magic sounds into whatever room was blessed by its presence...

Ronnie Bray recalls the explosive failure when he trying to build his own radio set.

To read earlier vivid chapters of Ronnie's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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September 08, 2009

Not Quite the Amazon

Ronnie Bray goes exploring on his first bike.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's engaging life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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September 01, 2009

Journey To The Amazon Basin

...Holy Trinity churchyard was at the terrible end of the continuum of infancy inhabited by danger and dread and by the certainty of unseen but powerful entities. It served as first alternative to Greenhead Park for special purposes. It was, above all, the place of the DEAD. Although I did not understand death, I entertained the lingering uncertainty so common to childhood about how 'dead' the departed really were...

Ronnie Bray tells of the wonderful, and sometimes frightening, imaginative world of childhood.

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August 25, 2009

Ten Minutes At Doctor Dan’s

Ronnie Bray tells of the delights of Dandelion and Burdock and Doctor Dan Holroyd's Drink of Health - two products at the very top of the divine order of beverages.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's story - which sits at the top of the divine order of autobiographies - please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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August 18, 2009

Music, Music, Music

...Music has been for me an escape: a sky-brushing thermal lifting me on eagle wings above the din and discontent of life to realms of joy and beauty unspoiled by harshness of word, or meanness of spirit...

Ronnie Bray tells of his discovery of the wonderful world of music.

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August 11, 2009

Ghosts

Ronnie Bray tells a couple of ghostly tales.

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August 04, 2009

Notes

...I like America in spite of its mistakes and the ignorant foolishness of some of its people. I have never understood what we used to call the colour bar, or racism. All arguments against outsider groups are monotonous, repetitive, and lacking scientific or common sense foundations...

Ronnie Bray's early impressions of America were formed by Hollywood films.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's vivid life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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July 28, 2009

Up in the Attic

...It was Willie who caused the hysteria by rushing up to the small square image on the white wall, calling out, "It moved! I saw it move! It moved!”...

But did the picture thrown by the Magic Lantern really move? Ronnie Bray recalls fear in the attic.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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July 21, 2009

Nanny's Broken World

...Apart from modern three-piece suite in Nanny’s Front Room, upon whose luxurious tawny-brown uncut moquette cushions I was never invited to rest, the furniture in the house was serviceable but old, and that helped to preserve an atmosphere of the past....

Ronnie Bray tells of homelife during his boyhood.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's memorable autobio9graphy please click on
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July 14, 2009

The Letter

Ronnie Bray tells of a short but unforgettable letter from his father.

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July 07, 2009

Boy On A Bridge

...Humanity stands suspended between truth and error, between imprisonment and freedom, between light and darkness, heaven and earth, life and death,,,

Ronnie Bray muses on the meaning of life.

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June 30, 2009

Brunswick Street Methodist Church

Ronnie Bray recalls the first time he trod the boards.

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June 23, 2009

A Brief History Of Flight

...Yet, stories of archers shooting peerlessly at small objects placed on or near a loved one form part of our classical mythology and appear in many parts of the world, the most celebrated being that of William Tell and his son, when, had it not been for Pete’s unreasonable terror, the legend of Ronnie Bray and the pen nib dart might have overtaken the Tell story in modern romance...

Ronnie Bray, writing with vigour and peerless originality, continues his life story. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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June 16, 2009

Safety First

...Her last words to me, before she hit the side of the first air raid shelter were, “Don’t let go!” I could tell by the panic in her voice, even at that distance, that she was frightened, but already it was too late...

Ronnie Bray recalls what happened when he took René out to teach her to ride a bike.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's gloriously readable autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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June 09, 2009

Ringworm

...I suppose that in view of the world-shaking events, my dose of ringworm rates low on the Richter Scale. But it does provide meaningful insight into the human condition, affording a way of relating to others on a plane that exposes human hearts to fellowship and love...

Ronnie Bray recalls the year his hair fell out.

To savour more of Ronnie's brilliant autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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June 02, 2009

Knives, Forks, and Spoons!

...The blacksmith never acknowledged my presence and I wouldn’t recognise him if I saw him. I went to watch him work. The forge fire was raised to white heat by a huge bellows pumping air through its vast leather lungs. Sparks flew up to the vaulted roof twenty or more feet above street level and scattered their iridescent showers all over without setting anything alight. The light from the forge burned brightest around the spot where the anvil stood on its elm block...

Ronnie Bray recalls sweet boyhood Saturdays - even though there were chores which had to be done.

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May 26, 2009

Weekends

Ronnie Bray tells of window shopping on his Saturday trips into town.

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May 19, 2009

What Aristophanes Didn’t Tell Me

...In a few moments, we had stripped our branches of all leaves and many of their twigs, as we pirouetted in our pas de deux of death, felling the little fellows without compassion...

Ronnie Bray tells with great gusto of a war against an army of wasps.

To read more of Ronnie's brilliant columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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May 12, 2009

Jezebel And The Invisible Man

Ronnie Bray recalls his first love - and the pain of having to become the invisible man.

To read more of Ronnie's expansive autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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May 05, 2009

Ships That Pass in the Night

Ronnie Bray recalls the windmill man, and a single square of chocolate.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's delicious autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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April 28, 2009

Mrs Simcox

Ronnie Bray tells with great compassion of a lady who lived in a cellar.

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March 17, 2009

A Brief History Of Time

Ronnie Bray tells of a young man with histrionic leanings.

To sample further tasty slices of Ronnie's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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March 10, 2009

My Pigeon

...Did I expect him to keep quiet? Probably. He could be heard scrabbling about inside the drawer, no doubt railing against the darkness, and the lodgers who slept in the big attic started asking awkward questions such as, “Have you got a pigeon in that drawer?”...

Ronnie Bray tells of a feathered friend.

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March 03, 2009

Brain Versus Brawn

...Only on Sundays were breakfasts cooked from scratch. Sunday was a special day, the day of fried eggs and bacon. Even in my rooftop haunt, I could smell Sunday, as its special aroma drifted upwards through the house. However, on common days, the breakfasts were piled into the ageing Creda cooker the night before to await a flick of the ‘on’ switch...

Though the young Ronnie Bray was to learn that not all breakfasts have to be cooked.

For more of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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February 24, 2009

Scabies

...When I told my Father about it, he said that scabies only afflicted dirty people. That would certainly make me a candidate, for I was a stranger to soap and water, and remained so for a few more years...

Ronnie Bray falls victim to a terriblde itch. To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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February 17, 2009

Dining Out

Ronnie Bray tells of his first experience of dining out Yorkshire-style, which of course meant eating fish and chips.

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February 10, 2009

Out And About

...A real treat was a visit to the Beast Market at the bottom end of town. There were two fish and chip shops that had tables downstairs and upstairs where one could take a tray with fish and chips, bread and butter, and a pot of tea, sit, and eat a meal. It was almost too grown up for words...

The young Ronnie Bray goes exploring in his home town and discovers tasty delights.

To read more of Ronnie's engaging autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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February 03, 2009

Snickets, Ginnels And Alleys

Ronnie Bray explains the difference between snickets, ginnels and alleys.

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January 20, 2009

Which Way is Up?

Ronnie Bray had difficulty in working out the geography of his home town.

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January 13, 2009

Holidays At Home

Ronnie Bray recalls happy days in the park near his home.

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January 06, 2009

Flashes Of Light

Ronnie Bray describes what it feels like to be an "outsider''.

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December 30, 2008

Of Mice And Then

...We had a succession of black cats called Dinky. It was as if when one died, he was immediately reincarnated and returned to his former abode to have another attempt at getting off the wheel of life...

Ronnie Bray recalls the household pets of his childhood days - and the fate of one particular mouse.

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December 23, 2008

The Thermogene Protocol

Ronnie Bray recalls the fiery night of the Thermogene experiment.

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December 16, 2008

Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves

Ronnie Bray recalls the travelling people who were often seen when he was a boy.

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December 09, 2008

Blake Lea

...Blake Lea had a swimming hole. It was not wide, it was not very deep, and it was not long, but for a brief division of its mysterious watercourse, it became spa, lido, watering hole, and gathering place, little more than a step or two outside the real world and its concerns, where, for the space of a sunny afternoon, pains and responsibilities released young boys from their grasp...

Ronnie Bray recalls a place of magical happiness.

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December 02, 2008

Peeking Places

Ronnie Bray enjoyed the yards where poeple lived in his home town.

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November 25, 2008

Back Streets

...There is little in life better than a rummage through someone’s cast-outs and to discover the very essence of joy in some broken thing...

Ronnie Bray tells of the boyhood joy of exploring the back streets of his home town.

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November 18, 2008

Lesser Ways

...From Little Greenhead Park up to Gledholt Road, wound Greenhead Road that sported gracious houses and people who had abandoned Yorkshire vowel sounds. Children who lived there had gleaming new bicycles, matching shoes, and wore hats. I knew that I did not belong there...

Ronnie Bray continues his recollections of the town in which he spent his boyhood.

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October 28, 2008

Lurid Tales

Ronnie Bray visualises the home-town streets of his boyhood.

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October 21, 2008

The Old Wooden Footbridge

Ronnie Bray continues to delineate the boundaries of his boyhood kingdom.

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October 14, 2008

Thank-You Alfie

...His catchment area was the whole world of need. He understood the imperatives of good physical health and a correct mental attitude - mens sanum in corpus sanum was his watchword. He invented and advocated Positive Mental Attitude long before it became a multi-million dollar business. All sorts and ages of boys were welcome there, and each received Alfie’s individual attention. He tutored each lad with infinite patience and care, dispensing advice like a machine gun...

Ronnie Bray pays tribute to a man who had a big influence on his early life.

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October 07, 2008

The Best Toffee Ever Tasted

...My father’s family had history in Castlegate. Grandma Lina Willis Bray, the girl from Scarborough, lived in a cellar there at some time and made toffee and fudge that she sold to keep body and soul together in the bad years when Grandfather Oliver Bray was not behaving himself in a civilised and domesticated way...

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

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September 30, 2008

Nont Sarah’s

Ronnie Bray shares his memories of the Yorkshire mill town where he was born.

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September 23, 2008

The Park Ranger

Ronnie Bray recalls the man who ruled the park near to his boyhood home.

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September 16, 2008

Gabriella’s Milk Bar

Ronnie Bray's photographic memory records the streets near where he lived as a boy.

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September 09, 2008

Trinity Street Again

...Above there was the unusual front of Fox’s Dancing Academy. I attended there for two or three Saturday morning shilling's worth before deciding on a common vote that I was not destined to dance. Near there down some railinged cellar steps was the dark domain of Mr Armitage, cobbler...

Ronnie Bray recalls the surroundings of his town-centre home.

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September 02, 2008

Trinity Street

...A short way to Bill Haley’s Fish and chip shop where the best cod was fried to perfection, the chips were from Paradise, and they cost threepence for a huge bagful that I can taste yet and have never tasted better, for all the years I can remember...

Ronnie Bray, gifted with a photographic memory, tells of the street where he lived as a boy.

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August 26, 2008

My Safety Zone – And Beyond

Ronnie Bray tells of the boundaries of his childhood world.

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August 19, 2008

The Bushes And The The Faery Place

Ronnie Bray tells of an enchanting boyhood "playground''.

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August 12, 2008

In The Duck Pond

...A pleasant Saturday morning could be spent at the duck pond with a thrup’nny fishing net on the end of a bamboo pole, fishing for sticklebacks beneath the murky water. Then we would carry them home in a jam jar to die of something or other within the week. The ducks ate the fish we couldn’t...

Ronnie Bray recalls happy and soggy days at the duck pond in a park near his boyhood home.

For earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiographical writings please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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August 05, 2008

Venturing Out

Ronnie Bray recalls his first venturings into the big wide world.

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July 29, 2008

About Huddersfield

Ronnie Bray tells of his home town.

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July 22, 2008

Fire Faeries

...I remember with some fondness the otherworldly innocence of children during my own childhood. They lived in another world than grown ups and were, in the main, protected from life’s harsh realities until they were of an age and disposition to deal with them with some level of success. Today’s children live in a world where childhood is denied and innocence does not exist, except in their ability to deal with it...

Ronnie Bray recalls a childhood spent in the age of coal fires, draw tins and fire faeries.

To read more of Ronnie's magical autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.


To read more of Ronnie's magical autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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July 15, 2008

The Clothes Line Rules

...Playing in the yard – that was our playground – assured us of regular interactions with the flagstones and also with the clothes line. There were no rules about the flags, you could hit them as hard as you wished with any part of your body and no one minded.

However, the clothes line was girt about with outlandish mitzvoth setting out what could and could not be done with or to it...

Ronnie Bray tells of days of play fraught with the risk of punishment.

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July 08, 2008

Holidays

....Fathers wore clean Macintoshes, mothers wore woollen coats, hats, the children wore Sabbath best, and they sat on their bulging leather or fibre suitcases, strapped together with spare leather belts so as not to burst open before they were opened in the lodgings....

Ronnie Bray recalls childhood holidays.

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July 01, 2008

Cuisine à la Wray Castle

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but she can also be the mother of disaster as Ronnie Bray reveals in this account of a monumental culinary catastrophy.

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June 24, 2008

Acting The Part

Death was never fatal when Ronnie Bray and his friend Pete fought their imaginary battles, inspired by what they had just seen on the silver screen.

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June 17, 2008

Chapped Legs And Chilblains

...The struggle to get warm and then keep warm occupied a large part of our lives. It was not called The Frozen North for nothing, and our homes were cold cheerless places that sported no central heating. This meant that once we left the room that had the coal fire in it, we walked into a frigidity known only to Esquimaux, polar bears, penguins, and Yorkshire folk, and life expectancy plunged immediately to about twenty minutes...

With a pronouced shiver, Ronnie Bray recalls the chills of childhood.

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June 10, 2008

London Midland And Scottish

In this vivid autobiographical chapter Ronnie Bray recalls the days when horse power really was provided by horses.

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June 03, 2008

Shops Galore

Ronnie Bray recalls the days when his home town in Yorkshire had its own unique character.

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May 27, 2008

Wilson - Against All Odds

Ronnie Bray's hero when he was a boy was a fictional character called Wilson, who always triumphed when he seemed doomed to failure.

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May 20, 2008

On Boyhood

...There was no conversation in my childhood home. Only short interrogations and the briefest of answers...

Ronnie Bray introduces a series of chapters on his boyhood which will appear in the forthcoming weeks.

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May 13, 2008

A Veritable Pickwick

With little planning and an overloaded bike Ronnie Bray goes on holiday to the "Amazon of the North'', Scarborough.

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May 06, 2008

Acker

...I saw Acker's mother lay about his back somewhat viciously with the flat side of her bread knife as he sat at dinner. She was a big woman and he would be about thirteen. She showed him no mercy. He did not cry or attempt to defend himself....

Ronnie Bray recalls a boy who commanded respect at school, if not at home.

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April 29, 2008

A Bully Tamed

Ronnie Bray recalls how he dealt with a school bully.

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April 22, 2008

Erkie

Ronnie Bray tells of a fellow schoolboy who was cheerful in the face of great troubles.

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April 15, 2008

Eileen

...Some people are ready for kindness and it is wonderful when it arrives on time...

Ronnie Bray tells of a school pupil who was filled with kindness.

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April 08, 2008

A Dot And A Squirrel

Ronnie Bray tells of a lad who loved motorbikes.

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April 01, 2008

Love One Another

Ronnie Bray recalls a wonderful demonstration of youthful sympathy.

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March 25, 2008

Through A Glass Darkly

...Life was too much of a burden for a young lad to bear without challenging authority figures, of which the world was over-populated, and even so simple a thing as asking a question would seem to be “cheeky.”...

Ronnie Bray admits that he was a timid schoolboy.

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March 18, 2008

Archer's Banana

When Archer came to school in austere war years bearing a banana, all the boys marched in procession behind him.

Ronnie Bray continues his life story.

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March 11, 2008

Caning The Class

Ronnie Bray recalls teachers who were liberal in their use of the cane.

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March 04, 2008

The May Rushworth Story

Ronnie Bray tells of a wartime court case, at the heart of which was a big lie.

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February 26, 2008

Miss Rushworth's Sadness

...Watching Miss Rushworth lean over the balcony to watch morning assembly, I felt a pang of sorrow for her great secret and I know that I was not alone in this. Children in small groups who knew of her sadness talked about her in reverential and hushed tones, but never openly. In some ways, there was a religious tenor to what was felt and said about her and the anguish that we knew her smiling heart was hiding....

Ronnie Bray tells of the great sadness of one of his teachers.

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February 19, 2008

“I Always Knew You Would Amount To Something’’

Ronnie Bray recalls his neighbours.

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February 12, 2008

Auntie Nora's Children

...We would have a drink and some conversation on life’s mediocrities. She was pleasant and even-tempered. Her children were fortunate to have had her for a mother....

Ronnie Bray tells of family links. To read earlier chapters of his life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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February 05, 2008

Aunt Nora

...When I visited her home, we would have a drink and some conversation on life’s mediocrities. She was pleasant and even-tempered. Her children were fortunate to have such a mother....

Ronnie Bray tells of a favourite aunt. To read more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 29, 2008

A Soft Heart And Hard Boiled Eggs

...After the Second World War, St Luke’s was where they put people no one else wanted. My father’s mother, Lena Willis Bray, ended her days there, not because there was no one who could have cared for her, but because no one would. They said she had thirteen children: twelve of her own and one she rescued from the woman next door who was about to cut the baby’s throat with a carving knife...

Ronnie Bray tells of visiting his grandma in the dreaded workhouse. To read further chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 22, 2008

Taps

...I have heard that a person trapped in a burning building who realises he is not going to escape, utters long, loud sigh of resignation. I have never been in that position, but I have been faced by a charging grandparent who graduated summa cum laudi from the Genghis Khan School of Charm, and the Sonny Liston School of Gentle Taps. I uttered one of those long sighs just before two of these taps, too fast for the human eye to detect, stung my ear with a speed that would have caught Muhammad Ali off guard...

Ronnie Bray tells how two unjust slaps were the foundations of his benign attitude to children.

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January 15, 2008

Fierce And Unfair

Little ears sometimes hear more than they were meant to hear, as Ronnie Bray reveals.

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January 08, 2008

Fruit And Custard And Bread And Butter

...But then they didn’t know my Nanny. Besides being a cross between Napoleon on a bad day and the worst of Attila the Hun, she was my grandma. A charitable view is that of a woman who had to take control and who never relinquished it. I believe it was simply her nature to take command and give orders. Some people are like that....

Ronnie Bray recalls Sunday teas, presided over by his grandma - and the dreaded bread and butter ordeal.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's expansive life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 01, 2008

Nanny

"Of her life at the great house, she told many stories. These were frequently recounted in intimate whispers and silently mouthed words as if they were too terrible for our young ears.'' Ronnie Bray tells of his grandmother who once worked as a cook for a wealthy family.

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December 18, 2007

An Unlikely Hero

...I remember standing at Granddad’s knee asking questions of him. He sat on a kitchen chair at the end of the table, furthest from the crackling coal fire. He knew his place. His answers were thoughtful, usually true, and delivered without haste. No one else engaged him in any discussion. As I grew older, I became aware that some of his answers were works of imagination and fiction...

Ronnie Bray recalls his grandfather with deep affection.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography - a work in progress - please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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December 11, 2007

Eulogy For Ma

Ronnie Bray delivered the following eulogy at his mother's funeral earlier this year.

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December 04, 2007

The Birthday Girl

...“Hello.”

“Hello,” she returned, quite cheerfully.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No.” She smiled....

Ronnie Bray, with immense affection, recalls being with his mother on her 90th birthday.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's frank autobiography - a work in progress - please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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November 27, 2007

Conversations With Ma

Ronnie Bray recalls conversations with his mother, who died at the age of 91 earlier this year.

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November 13, 2007

Saying Goodbye To Ma

...I envy those who remember conversations with their mothers as occasions when wisdom and good advice were transmitted. I have no such conversations to remember and report. The longest conversation I recall with her was one on the back steps of 121 Fitzwilliam Street. I asked her where babies came from. I was about twelve or thirteen and I had no clue. She had carried out a large basket of washing to hang on the clothesline in our backyard. Her response was directed at me as she mounted the steps to re-enter the house.

“You know!” she pronounced grimly.

“I don’t.” I retorted, hurt at her dismissal of my earnest question. Her answer was even more shocking and final...

Ronnie Bray recalls the emotion-filled occasion of saying farewell to his mother.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's frank and angaging autobiography, a work still in progress, please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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November 06, 2007

A Parcel Of Crumbs

A parcel of crumbs brought delight to Ronnie Bray when he was serving with the British Army in Egypt.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's story of his crowded life please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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October 30, 2007

Modernity And Ma

Ronnie Bray's mother's first and last brush with modernity was to acquire a ballpoint pen in the early 1950s.

For more chapters in Ronnie's life story please visit A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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October 23, 2007

Louie Bennett

Ronnie Bray tells of his mother, the daughter of a cook in service at a mill owner’s home.

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October 16, 2007

Beatific Vision

A vision of the Saviour brings peace to Ronnie Bray's troubled mind.

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October 09, 2007

A Hard School

When it comes to re-igniting a fire which is on the point of going out do not, whatever else you try, follow the example of the Brays, father and son.

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. For earlier chapters please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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October 02, 2007

Norina

...Norina made one bid for freedom with the boilerman from the mill where she worked. They fled to Leeds and lived as man and wife for a month before he returned to his wife, and she returned, in the family way, to her family. She gave birth to Janet early the next year. Her mother, Kitty, the former Catherine Marshall, died soon afterwards...

Ronnie Bray tells of terrible and troubling family matters.

For more chapters of Ronnie's searingly honest autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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September 25, 2007

Childhood Sweethearts

Ronnie Bray is the "forgotten son'' when he attends his father's funeral.

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September 18, 2007

Descent Into Light

...I asked where father was and Norina pointed to the heap of blankets.

Moving them aside, I saw a little old man with long grey hair and an untidy beard. He was drinking a bottle of spirits a day...

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. To read earlier chapters please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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September 11, 2007

Sisters United

...I told him that his intemperate language was wasted on me and that I was not to be bullied. He opened a drawer in the table and drew out a long bladed knife. “I’ll knife you.” He screamed and lunged toward me. I hit him on the side of the head and he fell into an easy chair in a sitting position, and was strangely silent....

Ronnie Bray tells of family turbulence. To read more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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September 04, 2007

Finding The Wanderer

...What a shame it is that his dreams were too far beyond his reach to impede his progress towards them even a little...

Ronnie Bray makes contact with his wandering father.

For more of Ronnie's autobiographical words please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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August 28, 2007

Pulling Up Socks

...At the end of the evening, Sam told him to pull his socks up. Father was the baby of the family and not given to taking advice. He replied with an unconvincing grin that his socks were up. They were not...

Ronnie Bray recalls another encounter with his father. For more chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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August 21, 2007

A Wandering Aramean

Ronnie Bray tells of biking over the Pennine hills to vist his wandering father.

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August 14, 2007

I'm Your Father

...I went to the playground’s low wall, from which the railings had been removed, and stood before a smiling man who stood outside on the pavement near the gateposts. He was charming as he introduced himself as my father. I noticed that he had heavily nicotine-stained hands and part of a finger missing. He was very warm and kind and I enjoyed the moment. It held some kind of completeness, some sense of triumph for me. I was not to see him again for another two years...

Ronnie Bray tells of rare encounters with his father. To read more ofd Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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August 07, 2007

Forgive My Roughness

....My father often told me that he had several good ideas for making lots of money – which, he said, he wanted so that he could give it to me (music to my ears), but that he was prevented from making my fortune by lack of capital. Apparently, he had not been introduced to the twin values of continued employment and thrift...

Ronnie Bray confesses that there is much he did not know about his father. To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From the Attic in the menu on this page.

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July 31, 2007

A Sea Of Troubles

Ronnie Bray tells of his father, a man who was "padlocked'' within himself, fated to stay locked to the end of his days.

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July 24, 2007

One Miserable Saturday

...My stepfather, Tommy, was referred to as “Your Dad” and my biological father, George, unflatteringly, as “Your bloody Father!” The only good word I heard about him was when, aimed at my reluctance to dampen my features with soap and water, mother informed me, “Even if your Father had no shirt to his back, he would always wash himself before he left the house!”...

Ronnie Bray recalls the agonising day when he waited for his father.

For more of Ronnie's vigorously recounted life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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July 17, 2007

George Frederick Bray

...My father was George Frederick Bray. I have few early recollections of him that help me to understand what he was really like, except to note that he was often spoken of by grandmother and mother in pejorative terms that were doubtless justified. I did not know that at the time, and often felt wounded by their hurtful remarks about him...

Ronnie Bray paints a word portrait of his father.

To read further chapters of Ronnie's autobiogrpahy - a work in progress - please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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July 10, 2007

The Upper Room

…When I started attending the Mormon Church, a blacksmith who ran an old-fashioned forge, carrying out general smithy work occupied the ground floor. He was a nice man, who was rather deaf. The benefit of this to us was that he could not hear us on our weekday activities. When he closed own, a victim of progress, the premises were cleared out and taken over by a cars sales company. These people complained that our dancing, we loved to dance, made bits of plaster fall onto their cars…

Writing with his customary gusto and enthusiasm Ronnie Bray tells of his early days as a Mormon in his home town, Huddersfield in Yorkshire.

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July 03, 2007

Falling Among Mormons

Ronnie Bray tells of youthful links with various churches, and his first enlightening encounter with Mormons.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's engrossing life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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June 26, 2007

The Fighting Parson

...I was approached by the resident thug demanding to know if I was “religious.” I replied in the affirmative, whereupon he invited me to fight him. To my surprise, I accepted his invitation without flinching...

To be right and please God, it is sometimes obligatory for us to take on the enemy, says Ronnie Bray.

To read more chapters of Ronnie's reminiscences please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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June 19, 2007

Brickyard Cricket

The bat was as heavy and as deadly as a war club, and could double for one when the game turned nasty.

The ball was a genuine cricket ball –a ‘corky’ – that had seen better days, but which was still lethal if it hit the face or head.

The pitch was any more or less piece of ground between the two mammoth brick kilns, and the wicket was chalked on a convenient wall, preferably one without windows.

Ronnie Bray recalls the dangerous delights of playing cricket in the brickyard where he worked as a young man.

For more chapters of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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June 12, 2007

Bricks Without Straw

...Our day started at 7 am, but because of the odd assortment of people who worked in the brickyards, we rarely had a full team in the brick production shed at start time. Rowley would say, “If I ever come in and find you all working, I’ll die of shock.” He was in little danger of early death....

Ronnie Bray gets a job helping to make bricks.

For more chapters from the book of Ronnie's crowded life please click on A Shout From The Attic on this page.

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June 05, 2007

A Savage Kick

...The warehouse smelled of wonderful things. Sides of smoked bacon, sacks of Demerara sugar, currants, raisins, and sultanas, and a hundred other spicy smells from goods exposed to the air. Biscuits were packed in big biscuit tins, not wrapped as they are today. Sugar was sold in conical twists of blue sugar paper. Everything was sold loose and weighed out...

Ronnie Bray works for the Co-operative Society as a driver's mate - but not for long.

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May 29, 2007

The Light That Failed

Ronnie Bray, writing with great gusto, tells of the day he set a trap for the paraffin thief.

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May 22, 2007

In The Foundry

...I got the job and started in the dirtiest place I had ever seen. It was a huge foundry, manufacturing some of the biggest castings imaginable. I worked at an iron table, making small cores out of sand...

Ronnie Bray goes to work in a huge ironworks. For earlier chapter's of Ronnie's engaging life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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May 15, 2007

Having My Ears Lowered

...There was one style, and the coiffure was topped-off by a generous helping of ‘Fixative,’ an early type of epoxy resin that set the hair like Welgar Shredded Wheat. Nor rain, nor hail, nor snow, nor any wind could move the hair dosed with this primitive super-glue...

Ronnie Bray recalls visits to he barber's shop.

To read further chapter's of Ronnie's vivid life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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May 08, 2007

White Eagles

Ronnie Bray tells of a Polish exile who sought a better life in England after World War II - and of the night when two callow youths had an embarrassing encounter with White Eagle cigarettes.

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May 01, 2007

Vincent

...All weavers could lip read; it was the only way they could communicate. I never learned to lip read, but I did learn to shout. The obvious benefit to me was that I could sing at the top of my voice all the workday long. I loved it. The elderly lady weavers took to me because I was always cheerful and willing. I fetched sacks of rolled paper weft and placed them next to their machines, singing like Caruso – at least, I was as loud as Caruso...

Ronnie Bray recalls his first job, working in a Yorkshire textile mill. To read more of Ronnie's memories please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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April 24, 2007

At The Mill With Slaves

Ronnie Bray leaves school and goes to work in a local mill.

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April 17, 2007

The Bullet

Ronnie Bray recalls a mad boyhood escapade with a "live'' bullet.

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April 10, 2007

The Palace Theatre

...On Saturday nights I paid my shilling, climbed up to the gods – so called from the celestial beings painted on the exalted ceiling a few feet from the top of my head – sat on one of the wooden benches with other poor but equally ardent patrons, and entered the world of entertainment at its very best...

Ronnie Bray remembers the variety stars that he saw on the stage of the Palace Theate in his home town.

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April 03, 2007

In Praise Of Harmony

...Music has been for me an escape, a sky-brushing thermal, lifting me on eagle wings above the din and discontent of life, to realms of joy and beauty unspoiled by harshness of word, or meanness of spirit...

In his early teens Ronnie Bray willingly and happily became addicted to music.

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March 27, 2007

Sounds Wonderful

...When I was rising fourteen, my Dad did something that changed my life. From deep within one of the two large wooden chests that he brought with him when he and mother were married, he produced a crystal set...

Ronnie Bray discovers the wonderful world of music.

To read more of Ronnie's extraordinary life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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March 20, 2007

My First Motor Cycle

...I spun the motor bike round the field, bouncing over the hummocks, having great and reckless fun. And that’s when it stopped. It stopped dead! I hit the kick-start pedal time and time again, but it would not roar into life...

Ronnie Bray was able to ride his first motor cycle for less than a day.

For lots more episodes of Ronnie's engaging life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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March 13, 2007

It ‘Aint Love, But It ‘Aint Bad

... Long live Laurel and Hardy! Long live all those who recognise the sorry condition of the common people,and take a little time to make it better or to help us to laugh at our own suffering...

Ronnie Bray recalls favourite stars of the silver screen, and considers the impact that Hollywood has had on his life.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on his page.

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March 06, 2007

Taught By The Flicks

...Westerns let us ride full gallop to wild places with wild people, and the man in the white hat always got the girl, unless he was black-hatted Hopalong Cassidy. Comedies eased my alienation, making me feel good until the feeling wore off somewhere on the way home.,,

Ronnie Bray recalls the influence of Holywood on his early life.

To read more slices of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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February 27, 2007

Silver Screen Stars

...The biggest and plushest cinema in town was the Ritz. This was later renamed the ABC which told you nothing about this super theatre. It housed a Wurlitzer cinema organ and we sang along to songs projected on screen. Even self-conscious cinemagoers sang a bit. The Ritz occupied the site of the former cloth hall where my great grandfather sold the cloth he manufactured at his premises in Deighton. I did not know that when I was a devotee of the nearest thing to a palace that most Huddersfieldonians ever entered. The management team was uniformed, authoritative, visibly in charge, and not to be trifled with...

Ronnie Bray tells of being entranced from boyhood by the Silver Screen.

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February 20, 2007

Don't Put Your Muck In Our Dustbin

Ronnie Bray, continuing his life story, confirms that there are treasures to be found among things which other folk have thrown away.

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February 13, 2007

Toffee And Fudge

...Grandma Lina Willis Bray, the girl from Scarborough, lived in a cellar there at some time and made toffee and fudge that she sold to keep body and soul together in the bad years when Grandfather Oliver Bray was not behaving himself in a civilised and domesticated way...

Ronnie Bray continues to delineate the people and places that marked out the boundaries of his childhood in a Yorkshire mill town.

For more episodes in Ronnie's life please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page

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February 06, 2007

Intimate Whispers

...Somewhere among the wealth and opulence of Edgerton, my Nanny, Margaret Ann Myers, had worked as a cook. Of her life there at one of the great houses, she recounted many stories. These were told in intimate whispers and silently mouthed words as, if they were too terrible for our young ears...

Ronnie Bray vividly recalls his early life in a Yorkshire town, Huddersfield. For earlier episodes of Ronnie's engaging lautobiography please click on A Shout From The attic in the menu on this page.

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January 30, 2007

Reasons To Tiptoe

...Another house to tiptoe past was one on Portland Street, an old dark house with dusty windows, tattered curtains and a garden that never saw a spade....

Ronnie Bray tells of houses which put fear into young hearts.

For earlier episodes of Ronnie's engaging life story please do click A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 23, 2007

Cobbles And Yards

Ronnie Bray, seeing clearly with memory's eye, takes us round the streets of his boyhood in a Yorkshire industrial town.

For more of Ronnie's engagingly narrated life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 16, 2007

The Meadow

...Above that was Jubb’s grocers, where I got a job as a bicycle delivery boy in the absence of the regular boy and cried my way through several weeks of gloveless November and December frosts that bit my fingers with pain too much to bear without tears...

Ronnie Bray has astonishingly vivid memories of the neighbourhood in which he grew up. for more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 09, 2007

Finding North

...In later years I travelled even past the bike hire man to go to the Savoy cinema, affectionately referred to as “The Cabbage.” The commissionaire, a man who wore a multi-coloured overcoat made in mock military style sufficiently roomy for a family of itinerants and a dog...

Ronnie Bray defines the urban boundaries of his childhood world in a Yorkshire town.

To read more of Ronnie's absorbing life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 02, 2007

Greenhead Park

Ronnie Bray recalls the wonders of one of his favourite boyhood "playgrounds'', the local park.

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December 26, 2006

Shopping At The Co-Op

...From somewhere behind the shop proper came wonderful aromas as currants, raisins, sultanas, and sides of bacon, smoked and green, each contained in huge, moist jute sacks competed with sticky dark brown sugar from Demarera to fill the shop with the heady scent of good old times and the riches of the British Empire...

Ronnie Bray recalls Co-op shopping during the war years.

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December 19, 2006

The Trolley Bus And The Busy B

... Our next call was occasionally at Howarth’s vegetable stall for vegetables and sometimes fruit, then maybe to Fred Wood’s game and poultry stall to choose one of the scores of rabbits hung down, with their heads in little tin buckets to catch the gore, amid pheasants and other gorgeous but motionless colourfully-plumed fowls presenting a Dickensian view of what Christmas should be in times of plenty...

Ronnie Bray recalls shopping trips with his Mum in the Yorkshire town of Huddersfield.

For more of Ronnie's memories please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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December 12, 2006

My Visit To Asia

When he was a very young lad Ronnie Bray visited Asia. Or could it have been...no, surely not Heysham!

For many more chapters of Ronnie's lively autobiographical words please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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December 05, 2006

The Circus Comes To Town

…Perhaps that was the secret of the Circus: the nearness to danger but with little personal risk to the spectators whilst the performers seemed to be always under threat of death or mutilation…

But there came a day for Ronnie Bray when the magic of the circus was extinguished.

For earlier chapters of Ronnie’s experiences please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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November 28, 2006

Impossible Dimensions

..the sons of squaws on adjacent hides being equal to the sons of the squaw on the hippopotamus hide...

Continuing his life story, Ronnie Bray recalls a geometrical joke and a puzzling, inexplicable, shrug-inducing mathematical singularity.

To read more of Ronnie's experiences please lick on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his sparkling Letter From America columns.

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November 21, 2006

Out Of The Depths

A teacher’s animated forefinger dismisses Ronnie Bray from the school choir when his voice breaks.

To read more of Ronnie’s autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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November 14, 2006

Two Teachers

Ronnie Bray only began to realise what education was all about after he had left school.

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November 07, 2006

Swimming Lessons

Ronnie Bray recalls school-day swimming lessons - and an embarrassing occasion.

To read more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Do also read his splendid Letter From America columns.

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October 31, 2006

Chalk Dust

Ronnie Bray recalls the day he put chalk dust on his face and pretended to be ill.

To read more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his engaging weekly column, Letter From America.

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October 24, 2006

Yes We Have No Bananas

Ronnie Bray recalls wartime privations.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his invigorating Letter From America columns.

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October 17, 2006

And The Band Played On

Continuing his life story Ronnie Bray recalls the bitter day when he learned why he was not being allowed to sing in a schools concert at the local town hall.

To read further chapters of Ronnie's story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his engaging and entertaining Letter From America series.

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October 10, 2006

The Craftsman

Ronnie Bray recalls woodwork lessons in school - and making a Stradivarius-class pipe rack.

To read more of Ronnie's memoirs click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his exuberant Letter From America columns.

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October 03, 2006

Books

Ronnie Bray recalls helping himself to a small supply of books, on "permanent loan'', from the school library.

To read more of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his sparkling Letter From America columns.

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September 26, 2006

Teachers

...He was also given to caning the whole class for the misdemeanour of one. He had a very striking style...

Ronnie Bray recalls a teacher with a "striking'' style. For more of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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September 19, 2006

Dear Old Alma Mater?

...We played at omnibuses by putting our little wooden chairs in line. Someone played at conductor and we bought paper tickets with cardboard money. I can still see the golden and copper coloured coins. The printing was not quite centred...

Ronnie Bray is far from rosy-eyed as he recalls his school days. To read further chapters of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his ebullient weekly column Letter From America.

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September 12, 2006

Black Bottom

...The Black Bottom Clown disappeared from sight, and we wandered to our homes musing on what we had witnessed, trying to make sense of the world of grown-ups. They could be so strange. No wonder we didn’t quite grasp who or what our parents were, what it was they wanted us to do, and what it was they wanted from us. Life was a puzzle without a solution...

Ronnie Bray recalls the day when, as a schoolboy, he saw a peformance by a one-man band. For more of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his engaging Letter From America columns.

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September 05, 2006

Roller Towel Blues

Ronnie Bray recalls one of his school teachers, Miss Bessie Saltmer, a kindly lady who smoked Kensitas cigarettes.

To read more of Ronnie's engrossing life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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August 29, 2006

School

...School was a necessary evil to be patiently borne, but I didn’t know why it was necessary... Ronnie Bray recalls his early schooldays.

For more of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his vastly entertaining weekly columns, Letter From America.

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August 22, 2006

Adventures With Curly

...The kitchen was full of acrid black smoke that would have done credit to the Coronation Scot steam locomotive pulling forty carriages up a one-in-two incline... And the rabbits could not be blamed for the cause of that smoke, as Ronnie Bray reveals in this tale of what happened when he went to stay with his mate Trevor Lee.

Read earlier chapters of Ronnie's life story by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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August 15, 2006

The Visitor

...I often wished my family could see me swallowed up by one of the sumptuous leather easy chairs, taking tea with her and Vaikai from delicate bone china cups with matching saucers...

The teenage Ronnie Bray becomes the friend of an American boy whose wealthy mother owned a textile mill.

Read more of Ronnie's engaging life story by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his exuberant weekly column Letter From America.

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August 08, 2006

Yellow-And-Black Invaders

Ronnie Bray tells of a madcap boyhood holiday in Scarborough when his tent was occupied by squatters wearing yellow-and-black striped jerseys.

Fore more of Ronnie's life story, recounted with great good humour, click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his weekly column Letter From America.

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August 01, 2006

The Gladiators

...At best it was a sorry sight with two chortling schoolboys circling with their fists in the air and their hearts not in the contest...

Ronnie Bray recalls the day when he was a reluctant gladiator.

Read also Ronnie's ever-surprising columns. Click on Letter From America in the menu on this page.

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July 25, 2006

The Boy From Royston

Ronnie Bray recalls a boy who lived in a house called Royston - a boy whose feet refused to obey Ronnie's well-meaning orders.

To read more colourful episodes of Ronnie's life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his sparkling columns, Letter From America.

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July 18, 2006

Come Back Derek Harrowby, All Is Forgiven

...It was a surprise, therefore, to find myself being pushed backwards through the school playground one lunch time by this ginger-haired lad. Surrounded by bloodthirsty boys, calling to see my blood, he poked and prodded me into retreat until he had me trapped in front of the schoolhouse door...

Ronnie Bray recalls a red-headed boy, and a very special baby girl with copper-coloured hair.

To read more of Ronnie's vivid memoirs click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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July 11, 2006

A Pernicious Habit

Ronnie Bray recalls how he dealt with a schoolboy bully.

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July 04, 2006

How Charles Darwin Upset Gerald Marshall's Father

Recalling an incident from his chilhood, Ronnie Bray tells a rollicking tale involving the origin of the human species.

Read more of Ronnie's life story by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his lively weekly column, Letter From America.

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June 27, 2006

Pete West

...When smoked in our pipes, briar rejects bought from Woolworth’s for half a crown, it made a dense smoke cloud with a smell like a garden bonfire..

Ronnie Bray recalls his early smoking experiences with his friend Pete West. For more of Ronnie's entertaining reminisences click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

Read also his wonderful Letter From America columns.

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June 20, 2006

Mousey

...I never saw him but that my heart went out to him in gentle sympathy for the load he would have to bear through his life... Ronnie Bray recalls a boy called Mousey.

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June 13, 2006

Cat In The Box

"How can one ever say sufficient ‘goodbye’ to a beloved pet who has been one’s solitary friend and keeper of secrets?'' Ronnie Bray recalls the last sad journey of a pet cat, Dinky.

Read more of Ronnie's rich slices of lifetime experience by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his exuberant weekly columns, Letter From America.

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June 06, 2006

Derek Brown

Ronnie Bray recalls a boy called Derek Brown - and a callisthenic kick.

For more of Ronnie's rich lifetime memories click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. And do also read his delicious weekly columns Letter From America.

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May 30, 2006

Willie Hudson And The Movies

In this slice of autobiography Ronnie Bray recalls a childhood attic adventure into the magical world of the movies.

Read also Ronnie's wise and humorous weekly column. Click on Letter From America in the menu on this page.

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May 23, 2006

Frankie Knight

...Someone at the little church thought that as Frankie was a big lad, he would be ideal for the position of bellows pumper for the ancient hand-pumped organ. The bellows was located in a small room at the back of the organ, and Frankie would sit on his chair until the hymns were announced and then, springing like a crouching tiger for the handle of the big leather bellows he would pump vigorously until the dying notes were sung, when he would resume his sedentary position to repay his oxygen debt...

Ronnie Bray recalls a school friend, Frankie Knight, a lad who vigorously pumped the organ bellows - for a while.

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May 16, 2006

Knives To Grind

In this slice of autobiography Ronnie Bray recalls some of the tradesmen who came hawking their services down the street where he lived.

To read more of Ronnie's evocative life story click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his good humoured column Letter From America.

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May 09, 2006

Nanny's Jam Tarts

"The little sweet things that did appear were Nanny Bennett’s Jam and Lemon Curd Tarts – both deserving of capitalisation! The tarts appeared from time to time in an old round biscuit tin kept exclusively for holding the confections and enabling them to be dispensed at times divinely appointed. They were lovely!...'' Ronnie Bray tells of tasty boyhood treats.

For earlier chapters of Ronnie's autobiography click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Also read his delicious Letter From America columns.

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May 02, 2006

Chinny's

"Dance halls were where most of what was happening happened...'' Ronnie Bray recalls his youthful days in a dance hall in a West Yorkshire town.

To read Ronnie's autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his superlative Letter From America columns.

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April 25, 2006

Slaying Dragons

Ronnie Bray samples honeycomb tripe and mushroom soup and decides that growing up could be fun.

To sample more tasty helpings of Ronnie's autobiography click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his richly interesting weekly columns, Letter From America.

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April 18, 2006

Home Life

... My Ma came a long way behind Nanny in the pecking order. Everyone else got pecked. The hand that held the purse strings ruled the world...

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. To read his autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

And do read Ronnie's versatile and varied Letter From America columns.

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April 11, 2006

Tommy Scott

"Life with Tommy Scott as a dad was difficult for me...According to the perceived wisdom of the time, I presented something of a challenge and it was not fashionable in those days to have challenging children...''

A step-father "appears'' in Ronnie Bray's young life. To read Ronnie's autobiogrqphy from the beginning click on A Shout From the Attic in the menu on this page.

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April 04, 2006

The Theory Of Relativity

"I could not say that either my father or mother ever really grew up...''

Ronnie Bray has grim memories of a bullying father. To read Ronnie's autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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March 28, 2006

Nanny's Sanctum

...At Christmas when the cakes and puddings would be mixed, the best treat was to scrape the basin and lick the wooden spoons. Uncooked cake and pudding mix tastes far better than the finished product...

Ronnie Bray recalls in scene-painting detail his boyhood home.

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March 21, 2006

Harold Bennett - Granddad Was Banished

…Though Granddad imparted no skills to me, left me no pearls of wisdom, did not share his Werther’s Originals, and never took me anywhere, the times he spent talking to me in the cellar sitting room made the brightest and warmest memories, that stand out like oases of reality in a desolate and denying landscape. …

Ronnie Bray describes the unusual arrangements in the house where he spent his boyhood.

To read Ronnie’s entertaining biography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. And do look out for Ronnie’s wonderful and invariably surprising weekly column Letter From America.

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March 14, 2006

The Parrot

Ronnie Bray's mother and grandmother believed their pet animals could understand English. Which resulted in interesting consquences when the Amazon green parrot cried out "The teacakes are burning!''

Read earlier chapters of Ronnie's life story by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. And look out for Ronnie's weekly Letter From America.

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March 07, 2006

René Bray

...Overall, I did not enjoy school. Too much to remember, too many places to be and too many people to please, many of who appeared incapable of being pleased....

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. For earlier chapters click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also Ronnie's invigorating column Letter From America which appears weekly in Open Writing.

Continue reading " René Bray" »

February 28, 2006

Family Life

...I went upstairs to bed alone, sometimes, for reasons of which I am not sure, carrying a lighted candle stuck in an enamelled tin candleholder. When I heard my mother come up to the floor below I called out to her so that she would visit me in my bedroom. She did not always come. Sometime she came but never stayed more than a few seconds. She was always busy with some task around the house. I felt so unloved and alone...

Ronnie Bray recalls troubled thoughts from his childhood.

Read earlier episodes of Ronnie's autobiography by clicking on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. A follow Ronnie's ever-surprising and always entertaining Letter From America column which is posted in Open Writing every Saturday.

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February 21, 2006

Attic Salt

...Of an evening, we mostly sat around the fire in the living cum dining room. All the chairs were wooden dining chairs. The floor was covered with linoleum and was bare except for the pegged rung that was in front of the fire. Pegged rugs were formed on a backing of jute sackcloth, pieces of cloth cut from old coats, and dresses were put through holes mad with a wooden skewer. Simple patterns were achieved which made them look attractive, but they were dust traps.... Ronnie Bray recalls his early teen years in quieter, though much itchier, times.

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February 14, 2006

Goings On At 121

"The windows were set half above and half below ground level, so that even when the sun streamed through the rear windows in the afternoon the room was never brilliant. It could have been cosy, but it never was...'' Ronnie Bray tells of his dreary childhood home.

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February 07, 2006

Outside The House

Entrance to the house in which Ronnie Bray was born was by the back door. Only ladies, gentlemen, and Doctor Hanratty used the front door. In fact, since ladies and gentlemen never called, the Irish physician was the sole ingressor through that hallowed portal.

To read Ronnie's autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 31, 2006

The Living Room

...The only time I remember my dad taking me out one-on-one was when he made a kite for me and took me to the Rifle Fields to fly it. It didn’t fly and we went silently home. I guess that about sums up our relationship... Ronnie Bray recalls his family, and the living room of the house in which he lived as a child.

Read Ronnie's engrossing biography from the beginning. Click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

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January 24, 2006

The Stone

"At Christmas when the cakes and puddings were mixed, the best treat was to scrape the basin and lick the wooden spoons. Uncooked cake and pudding mix tastes far better than the finished product...'' Ronnie Bray remembers the days of bread making and cake baking.

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January 17, 2006

Nanny's Room

"The room boasted a Pianola that I coveted, a radio that was never turned on, and a gramophone that was never played. The gramophone was driven by clockwork and the sound reproduced acoustically by a steel needle vibrating in the groove...'' Ronnie Bray, continuing his vividly-remembered life story, recalls the room in his grandmother's lodging house which served as her refuge and place of shelter from the world.

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January 10, 2006

121 Fitzwilliam Street And All That

"The house I was born in, 121 Fitzwilliam Street, was a lodging house owned and operated by my grandma, known as Nanny. Many of the lodgers were long-term inhabitants. From these, I learned the rudiments of Broad Yorkshire. Later, when I went to school, my dialect would be refined to the point where it would become almost unintelligible by those not from the favoured shire...''

Ronnie Bray recalls the house in which he was born - and the broad Yorkshire dialect which was his boyhood lingua franca.

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January 03, 2006

Yorkshire Grit

“The furnishings and appointments of the house where I was born were basic, practical, and sparse. The last gasp of Victoriana offering minimal comfort that served best to remind one of the temporary nature of one’s welcome. I lived there for the thick end of seventeen years without feeling welcome. To feel tolerated was very heaven, but rare…’’ Ronnie Bray, continuing his life story, recalls his childhood years, spent in a boarding house owned by his grandmother.

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December 27, 2005

Siblings

"We didn’t know about sibling rivalry and I can’t remember feeling bad about my brother and sister or feel they were getting more than their share...'' Ronnie Bray recalls childhood incidents.

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December 20, 2005

Ancestry And Antecedents

"I was born in January 1935. I was a chubby baby, some might say fat – some would say fat! My birth weight was ten pounds and my face was so chubby that I couldn’t get my eyes open. My mother, it is told, cried for two whole days at what fate had dropped in her lap...'' Ronnie Bray, writing with Dickensian gusto, launches into his life story.

Look out on Saturdays (and also in our archives) for Ronnie's splendid weekly Letter From America columns.

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December 13, 2005

When I Was Young

Before launching into his fascinating life story, Ronnie Bray recalls some of his childhood perceptions.

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December 06, 2005

A Child In Search Of Life

"My childhood was like falling through space with no points of contact that had real meaning. It was a free-floating experience without constellation or structure in which I found my own way in a day-to-day nothing that led nowhere. I still feel the draught. I learned not to look people in the eyes or ask questions. Sometimes it hurt to know too much...''

Ronnie Bray looks back on his life as though through a camera's lense. Ronnie has crowded lots of experiences into his years, and his literary gifts enable us to share in them. This is the first episode of what he calls "An autobiography in progress''. Week by week, there will be a further entertaining episode from A Shout From The Attic.

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