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Lansdowne Crescent: Chapter 15

….When Frank is in the office working up a case he is always very quiet, and becomes greatly absorbed in what he is doing. He often sits with his pocket-handkerchief in his hand, with one corner between his teeth, quite lost to all that is going on around….

Jean Day tells more of the lives of neighbours living in the town of Worcester in the early days of last century.

1913

More of my ramblings about Lansdowne Crescent which seem to be more about our family than any other, but of course that is what I know best.

When Frank is in the office working up a case he is always very quiet, and becomes greatly absorbed in what he is doing. He often sits with his pocket-handkerchief in his hand, with one corner between his teeth, quite lost to all that is going on around. On other occasions he comes into the office, where I work too, so deep in thought that he will stand and gaze out of the window apparently looking at all that is passing, but in reality quite absorbed in thought, as his mind (as he would say) is dwelling on some case he has in hand.

His manner with the clients is all that could be wished for, and he treats everyone with the greatest courtesy and consideration. On many occasions he gives his advice and attention to the case of a poor client quite free, yet at the same time he gives as much consideration to it as if he were going to be paid a bill of costs for his services.

When father wants a case prepared he leaves it to Frank, knowing quite well that when the time comes for him to go into court Frank will place it completely in his hands, every point considered and every reference ready to hand. He sits for hours with his books in front of him making most minute notes, and thus preparing himself, as Potter one of the clerks says, to become a dangerous opponent. He is a man of few words, but when he speaks he speaks to the point. As has been said of him: ‘He always seems so splendidly strong and such a straight - ahead sort of person who never says too much.”

This last year he has become connected with the Worcester Social Reform League, a Society for the study of social questions founded by Bishop Gore. This Society was at the beginning not very popular in Worcester, as in those days any mention of Social Reform was regarded with suspicion as savouring of Radicalism, which it behooved all who desired to be thought 'respectable' to avoid.

Frank cares little for such prejudices, and being interested in all questions connected with social well-being joined the league and being a bright, capable young member, he was soon elected Secretary. When the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children needed a new Secretary last spring the President of the organisation asked Frank to accept the post. As this was practical social work which he could do he consented, and so far has discharged the duties, carefully examining himself all cases reported, and taking a keen interest in promoting the efficiency of the local branch.

All three boys are fond of games. Frank and Charlie are enthusiastic hockey players; the former plays regularly for the City Club, and Charlie only just missed his blue at Cambridge. In connection with Frank and games one cannot fail to think of the Battenhall Tennis Club, of which for seven years he has been a very popular member and the life and soul thereof. He spends most of his summer evenings there.

Pete is now in his last year at King’s. He is the only one of the brothers to not go away to be educated, but remains in Worcester and living at home. He is just average at school but his real interest is, as is natural at his age, in games. This interest is rather extraordinary, for he plays almost pathetically badly, yet he is as keen as though he were the captain of the team. In the cricket season there was hardly a county match that was not watched by him, and if he were a bit shaky on the order of the Kings of Israel and Judah, what mattered it, for he could tell you that which was of far more vital interest, the averages of all the chief county players. He sauntered home about six o'clock one summer evening, too tall and lanky for his age, drifting along with his shoe laces undone, and a dreamy, far-away look in his eyes. His first remark when he saw me would probably be something of this nature: “You vexing thing, why weren't you with me to watch H.K.(whoever he is) make a century?”

There is, by the way, rather an amusing incident connected with his dreaminess. There lives in the house opposite to us a very aristocratic aristocrat. Peter one day walking home from school with his books tucked under his arm, deep in calculation as to Worcester's chances of being top of the championship list that year, dropped his books one by one at intervals along the road. On reaching home he discovered his loss, and immediately turned round to trace his missing property. He had not gone many yards when he met our honourable friend carrying a bundle of books, which he handed to Peter, saying: “These, I believe, are yours!”

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