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Delabole in the days of Yore Introduction


Since my retirement some years ago friends have suggested that I write my autobiography - apart from not knowing what to write I think that perhaps they thought they were trying to find something for me to do. They need not have worried on my account as I can always occupy myself. Also, when I speak or write I’m often trying to make a joke of it, which is usually inappropriate, particularly when you have used the joke before, not everyone likes this sort of thing and probably they don’t understand mine anyway. Example - even when I started this first page I began writing that I was born at a very early age in the U.S.A., “Up stairs in the attic”. Then I remembered that I had already used this joke in the ‘Slate’ so I will try to refrain from such frivolity for the remainder of this booklet. To begin at the beginning as they say in the best of circles, I am Matthew Cyril Hicks, aged 80+ and my wife is Hazel, who is my age for only ten days each year. Our daughter Helen is a teacher at Tywardreath, she has a nice flat, which over-looks the sea at Fowey, and we are delighted to have her with us each weekend. Now for some background information - I was born in one of the cottages at Rockhead in 1918 and moved to 124, High Street (Lundy View) when I was one year old. Not that I remember much about this but Delabole has been my home ever since. They told me that I was proper poorly when I was born, I was laid on the bed as dead but my father saw my hand move and they called in a family friend, Samuel Radcliffe, who christened me in the bedroom with the added comment, “He will live now” - and to prove it, I’m here. Apparently it was a heart condition and in 1930 a doctor told my parents that I would not climb the stairs again - I over-heard and didn’t do what he said. I was then confined to bed for some time and I shall always be grateful for the friendship of Jabez Williams. He lived with his family next to the school (now The Setters) and every day after school he would come in and spend an hour with me, bringing me up to date with the happenings - he seldom missed a day. For a ten-year-old boy to do that was something special. One thing that I recall in particular from my stay in bed - hundreds of times I counted the slates on the roof of Mr.Paul’s house opposite, I could tell how many slates there were in a row and how may rows there were.


I


grew in height whilst I was in bed - before I was ill I looked out of the window from below the centre bar - when I was allowed out I was looking over the top of it. I must have grown about 3 or 4 inches and it was strange getting accustomed to it. On my first day out I walked over to a shop I sometimes frequented, the dear lady who served me said, “Hello, we never expected to see you again.” It cheered me up no end !!! Many years ago when Helen was little, she was on her way down to Smith’s shop and met an elderly friend of ours, when she came home she said, “I met Mr.Keat and asked him how he was and he told me.” I would not wish to be put in the same class as that but it is sometimes difficult when asked after your health, you say, “Fine, thank you,” when they know very well


that it’s avoiding the truth. It is no secret as far as I am


concerned and at 80+ when I say, “I’m fit’s a fiddle, thank you” - I take my pills regularly and sometimes do as I’m told. I am treated well by the N.H.S, I am diabetic and the doctors tell me I have asthma, a prostrate tumour, a couple of wonkey heart valves and a pace-maker that was fitted on the right hand side on the second attempt. They blamed my anatomy for that but it seems to be doing it’s job O.K.,and, by the way, they said I must loose weight! The authorities in my leg make me clumsy on my feet but apart from that I’m fine thank you. My cancer is in remission with three monthly implants - to those similarly affected I say have faith and a quiet prayer. When I was in hospital, on two occasions the nurses asked if they could take my teeth - I soon put them straight, I told them that if I wanted my teeth taken out I would go to a dentist. I can do quite a number of odd jobs and sometimes cut the lawn - or at least follow the hover mower around. I find the computer a wonderful help and spend hours at the keyboard, it also has a piano keyboard. I don’t profess to understand the thing but it’s a marvellous piece of equipment - I can get it to talk to me - and that’s a fact. That’s life folk, I would not have wished to have it any other way as I have been blessed and fortunate throughout life with always having a wonderful family - and friends. I won’t embarrass anyone with mentioning names. I think Delabole is a wonderful place to live, where else could you find such friends? I have heard many people moving into the village say how friendly they found their neighbours and how soon they really felt at home. The amount of money raised for good causes is terrific and support for the numerous functions is fantastic. That’s sufficient for the autobiography side of things as I expect some further details will come out in the following pages. One thing, which persuaded me to compile this little booklet, was the last Flower Festival at our Chapel. Our theme was Old Delabole, with floral displays and explanations about many of the topics covered in this book. Those write-ups gave me something on which to hang my hat. I was asked to incorporate them with more comments about our village in days gone by and this I agree to do, with the valued help of some friends, including Les Cory, Wesley Mills, Chris Keat and Jack Richards. Many thanks for your assistance and I trust all of you will find “Delabole in Days of Yore” of interest.


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