Herbert Lyon's Ideals
Belvedere Road, Leyton E10, accommodated two parallel rows of neat three bedroom terraced houses, some 'sporting' curved modish bay windows. The hard working middle class residents who owned these houses were proud of their street which was positioned off Leabridge Road to the right of the Bakers Arms. The first thing that stood out to the stranger, were the small front gardens protected by brick walls, fences or sweet smelling petite white flowered privet hedges; and stylish gates. This was the custom of houses built not long before the Second World War - the classic modern 1930s style.
Herbert and Lillian Lyon's house had quite a long back garden with average low fences dividing it from their neighbours. Their garage was at the bottom of the garden, with access round the corner in Overton Road, where Georgina lived, the little girl Bert had rescued from bullies outside her house. Overton lead into Flempton Road which was parallel to Belvedere and housed a shoe factory. Fragrant flowering trees and the modern electric street lights which replaced the old fashioned inelegant gas lamps lined the impersonal straight roads at well calculated equal regular intervals. Standing upright and silent like sentinel soldiers waiting for orders from their CSM.
Further down Leabridge Road, a long main road running across the top of Belvue from Whipps Cross to Hackney, lay the Hackney Marshes. Marring the nearby River Lea landscape, was the Lea Bridge Gas Works, a twentieth century maladroit monstrosity, built in 1853, which the local residents would prefer to forget existed on their door step.
The area surrounding Belvedere Road was fairly new compared to where Janet lived. The Lyons' house was terraced, with the kitchen at bottom of the spacious hallway, opening onto the back garden. The dining room and front room were to the left; the stairs were to the right in front of and aproximately six feet from the street door. The dining room had ample casement doors opening onto the back garden and the front room had a large bay window. At the top of the stairs was a landing leading to the bathroom, at the back, and three bedrooms of which the smallest was Bert's study at the front, and the largest, the master bedroom, also at the front of the house.
With the evening dimming light casting shadows across the red floral carpet, Bert and Lilian were sitting in their dining room reminiscing and reflecting on their future and the consequences of that historical day when he visited Hale End Road School and introduced Raymond to Mrs Hamilton's class of physically disabled youngsters. Bert stood up from his comfortable armchair, pulled at the bottom of his grey hand knitted front zipped jumper, and with elbow on the coal fire mantelpiece, struck a match, lit and drew on a cigarette. Watching the curls of smoke rise toward the ceiling, he spoke to his wife in a contemplative tone.
"Do you know, Lil, this is our mission in life, to help disabled children to gain a better education through music. My last visit to the school has proved my theory if you teach these kids music it will give them a better chance in life: they are being hidden away from society in schools and institution like this."
"Yes Bert dear, but first we must get helpers on our side."
Lily was the practical one and sat back, with an interested expression, in her armchair opposite her husband's, wishing he would not pollute the air with pungent cigarette smoke.
This project was promising to change their lives, and they were having to make preparations for these changes. Bert had had some time to look round the school during that week and noticed that the deaf school was completely surrounded by a high brick wall, having their own playground, but the physically disabled and educationally subnormal schools shared the same playground. He was not at all impressed by this, or at the layout of the prefabricated classrooms: it brought to mind the old Workhouses. He now knew that this was an area on which to target his campaign; to help the disabled and disadvantaged child to take his or her place in society by obtaining a better schooling and consequently securing reasonable employment. Neither school had a legitimate name like the able-bodied schools. He saw that this anomaly had to change and would be on his list of future campaigns. He stared at the fingers of his left hand and reminisced how he had become disabled himself, and had acquired his job as an insurance agent because of an unfortunate mishap with a woodwork machine at a factory where he worked...
It was the Autumn of l950 and the factory was a babble of noise as the cutting machines were grinding and whining. The different scent of the various woods blended with that of the various types of glues that were required to make the various types of wood items.
"Good morning Paul. It's still okay for me to leave early tonight?" With a nod from Paul, Bert clocked in at the entrance.
Bert arrived early this morning so he could leave in time to prepare for a concert, that evening, where he was playing his violin. This had been agreed by his boss, Paul.
Making his way to his wood cutting machine and preparing to cut up wood into various shapes, he quietly hummed the popular themes from Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, inaudible under the cacophony of the factory machinery.
Halfway through the morning, Bert stopped for a short break and pulled out a cheese sandwich from a nearby lunch box Lilian had packed for him the previous evening, cheese and ham being his favourite. He wore green overalls for his job and the factory floor was spacious with quite a few wood cutting machines and piles of wood in the yard outside.
After his break. he went outside and brought in more wood and piled it near is machine. He had learned to marvel at the various types of wood grown by nature: and respect for the Great Heavenly Creator responsible for thlis indigenous to Earth wonder.
Retrieving a piece of splintered wood from the blade, Bert inadvertently started the machine with tragic consequences. With a whirling noise, the wood cutting blade came forward and to his horror sliced the fingers off his left hand. Bert gave a loud howl and fell to the ground. There was a hefty flow of blood. The acrid smell of machine oil mixed with that of cedar wood seemed to permeate the whole factory; this horrific moment would be etched in the memory of Bert for ever. The whole factory floor was alerted.
"Quick fetch the ARP!" Paul rasped to the nearest worker, kneeling to comfort a groaning Bert, "I will, will take Bert to casualty.
The ARP retrieved Bert's dismembered fingers, and quickly wrapped them up in a cloth; then rushed, with Bert carried on the firm's stretcher, to Paul's van. Bert's hand was wrapped up with lint pads, and at the local hospital he was rushed to surgery where his fingers were quickly sewn back on by a skilled surgeon. The prompt actions of his fellow workers had saved his hand...
Herbert Lyon's Ideals
unedited version. On the left is the corrected version obviously causing my headaches like my music compositions. my brother says my work will get plagiarized. But I told him that I feel if my work is not heard then I wont get anywhere... My brother's website is; www.newtomedicalscience.org
My website is my copy write. Music has to be really outstanding for people to want to steal it.
Belvedere Road, positioned off Leabridge Road, Leyton E.10, accommodated two parallel rows of neat three bedroom terraced houses with stylish modish curved bay window fronts, and contained middle working class residents who were proud of their road. The front gardens were small, protected by a brick wall or privet hedge and gate, as was the custom of houses built before the second World War - these were the thirties style.
Herbert and Lillian Lyon's house had quite a long back garden with average low fences dividing it from their neighbours. Their garage was at the bottom of the garden, with access round the corner in Overton Road. Fragrant flowering trees and the modern electric street lights which replaced the old fashioned inelegant gas lamps lined the impersonal straight roads at well calculated equal regular intervals. Standing upright and silent like soldiers waiting for orders from their Sergeant Major.
Further down Leabridge Road, which was a long main road running across the top of Belvue from Whipps Cross to Hackney, lay the Hackney Marshes. Marring the nearby River Lea landscape, was the Lea Bridge Gas Works, an early twentieth century maladroit monstrosity which the local residents would prefer to forget existed on their door step.
The area surrounding Belvue Road was fairly new compared to where Janet lived. The Lyons' house was terraced, with the kitchen off the hallway, opening onto the back garden while the dining room and front room were to the left of the stairs. The dining room had ample casement doors opening onto the back garden and the front room had a large bay window. At the top of the stairs was a landing leading to the bathroom and three bedrooms of which the smallest was Bert's study, and the largest was the master bedroom at the front of the house.
Bert and Lily, as they were known to their friends, were sitting in their dining room reminiscing and reflecting on the future consequences of that historical day when he visited Hale End Road School and introduced Raymond. It was promising to change their lives, and they were having to make preparations for these changes. He had had some time to look round the school and noticed that the deaf school was completely surrounded by a brick wall, having their own playground, but the physically disabled and educationally subnormal schools shared the same playground. He was not at all impressed by this or the layout of the prefabricated classrooms which brought to mind impressions of the old "workhouses". He now knew that this was an area on which to target his campaign to help the disabled and disadvantaged child to take his or her place in society by obtaining a better schooling and consequently securing reasonable employment. Neither school had a legitimate name like the able-bodied schools. He saw that this anomaly had to change and would be on his list of future campaigns!
* * *
Autumn of 1950
Mr. Lyon was a wood worker and cabinet maker in a factory, who had a very unfortunate accident during the Autumn of l950 with a wood cutting machine which sliced the index and middle fingers off his left hand. There was a hefty flow of blood. The acrid smell of machine oil mixed with that of cedar wood, which always permeated the whole factory, would mark this horrific moment in the memory of Bert for ever. The dismembered fingers were quickly put in ice and rushed with Bert in an ambulance to the local hospital where they were quickly sewn back on by a skilled surgeon.
It would take a few months before he would be able to use his hand again and, by then, he knew that no matter how much he practised he would never again be able to play his beloved violin to his previous high standard which had taken him years to achieve. While he was resting in the recovery room at the hospital after the operation, his mind cast back to the time he played in a local symphony orchestra where he met his dear wife, Lilian. She was obviously superiorly educated, spoke very well, played the cello and piano, and worked as a secretary. He came from an ordinary working class background and had left school round about fourteen years without any qualifications. He often spoke of himself as having the 'QBE' which, in Bert's language, meant "Qualified by Experience"!
Bert was the only child of a Jewish mother, his father having died some years previously. His mother never married again, preferring to dote on her only son, and was now living with her sister in Leytonstone. They had been quite poor by Jewish standards and Bert never carried on the religion - therefore becoming a Jewish gentile in the eyes of the world. But he retained his ancestors' love of God, family life, and devotion to the arts. It was these qualities, buried deep in his psyche, that he wished to instil in his future pupils.
During the second world war he was a soldier and dispatched to Cairo in Egypt. He was determined after seeing, during the few years he lived there, disabled children reduced to the status of beggars everywhere, to do something about their unhappy lot when the war ended. He had looked forward to the time when he would be demobbed and back in England; and this idea of helping the disabled fired his imagination.
The l939-1945 European war had taken its toll on the whole world. Due to those perilous times, there were many disabled children being born, also children without fathers owing to the high casualty rate on both sides during the fighting. Many in the front line never came back, leaving wives and children to fend for themselves. In fact, the war diverged and altered the whole structure of society both morally and economically, changing it not necessarily for the better of mankind's family life. The quality of the hospital staff was stretched because of more war casualties and some enlisted in war duties though helped by volunteers.
Bert hoped to help Janet and Jena by teaching them music. Janet, he observed, was a severely damaged cerebral palsy victim due to her mother having a most difficult and arduous birth. He was not yet aware that by observing the assortment of disabilities among the children in Egypt, an inspiration in him was to be sparked that would change the quality of the lives of these two little girls.
After the war, on his return home to Leyton, the farsighted little man's mother had been overjoyed that her only son had not succumbed to the brutalities of those times, providence seeing fit to return him unscathed, but matured, to her. He had always been a good son. His father, when alive, had been proud of his son's achievements, and had him taught music and the violin. His father did not force Bert to follow any particular religion, but his son obviously had an inbuilt love for God and felt that he would be used in some way by Him to better the lot of humanity. Bert, himself, often stated that he felt a calling to the Monastery!
"Peace and quiet from the whiles and endless chatter of women!" Bert would joke meaningfully. Women were a mystery to him at any time, although he often felt himself drawn to them. He was repelled by their seeming lack of dedication and spiritual outlook on life, although he did observe these qualities in his wife. The wedding had been a simple affair. Sadly, over the years the marriage proved childless.
* * *
On the occasion of seeing little six year old Gina being taunted by a group of children in the street outside her house, he had asked her mother if he could teach her to play the cello. To his pleasant surprise the girl's mother agreed. She lived in Overton Road, just round the corner from him; the houses were the same style as his.
While he was reflecting on the past year's events, and how his little prodigy had progressed from playing simple nursery rhyme tunes such as "Ba Ba Black Sheep" with the bow strapped to her left artificial hand, Lillian went out to make the tea. Jena had been just six at the time he met her, that would make her barely seven now. That year had convinced him his intuition had been right, and that he should give other disabled children the same chance as Jena. So this was the beginning of his dream that had begun during those torrid years away from home in Egypt.
Lillian came into the room with the tea and Bert watched her from where he was sitting in his usual armchair by the dining room casement doors. During the winter months there would be a lively fire in the grate of the medium size iron fireplace, warming his slippered feet and welcoming his inner man. She was a very good looking cultured woman, a head taller than him, whom he had met in the orchestra he joined after leaving Egypt. They both enjoyed cycling, the usual mode of transport for the working class during that era, and attached their instruments to their bicycles. There had not been much traffic on the roads, as the motor car was comparatively new and beyond the reach, price-wise, of ordinary people. But he could see this was about to change, with the road traffic gradually building up in his locality. Leabridge Road was fast becoming a major route into and out of the City of London.
Bert could remember that he had not been able to master a certain piece of music in the symphony orchestra, even though he had played duets with Stephan Grappelli, the Jazz violinist, and knew him well. The music circle was small, and every body helped each other. It was a wonderful caring area of life. Lillian, who had noticed the dapper little man struggling with the notes of this certain piece, the 'Finale' of the 'Beethoven Fifth Symphony', had offered to help him and invited him to her house. She showed him, on her piano, how the piece should go. From that time on they became inseparable. Marriage had inevitably followed, a few months later. They had pooled their savings for a deposit on the house, taking out a twenty five year mortgage.
The only thing marring their happiness was the knowledge that they would never be able to have children of their own. Bert loved Lily deeply, admiring her courage and determination to put this set back to their marriage behind them. He vowed that he would never do anything intentionally to hurt her. They had continued to play in the orchestra after they were married, this time travelling by a 'bicyclette for two', a tandem. He often marvelled at the ingenuity of their carrying those instruments, tied so precariously to the back and sides of such a flimsy contraption.
A few months later, he had had that awful accident in the woodwork factory where he was employed, getting first hand experience at what it was like to become disabled. He had decided to give up his job at the joinery firm, where they made doors and windows etc. Fortunately, he was able to get employment by registering disabled, as an insurance agent. He had been given a green card that entitled him to 'forced' employment as firms had to take on a quota of two percent among the disabled work force. In retrospect, because he was only slightly disabled and was a good speaker, he had stood a better chance of obtaining employment in this way. It could clearly be seen that badly disabled people did not stand a chance in firms that took only two percent of employees who were disabled. Sometimes it was better that they relied on a good education and functioned with the ninety eight percent of the work force. Then their disability would not be too prominent and the employer would see what 'they could do' and not what they 'may not be able to do'. In other words they would hopefully stand an equal chance with their able bodied peers if they could do their job well.
As they were eating their tea, Bert broke the contemplative silence between him and his wife. Lily certainly knew when not to interrupt her deep thinking husband and often waited until she was spoken to.
"How about if we held classes in our house on Sunday mornings? At least to start with, and if these classes are successful they could be extended to other times during the week. I've had offers from really good musicians who want to teach these children, giving of their time freely."
Before Lily could think of an appropriate answer to her husband's meaningful statement they were disturbed by a knock on the front door. A rather tall slim lady, in her thirties, with shoulder length blond was holding out an instrument that had been lying around her house and that she no longer had a use for. It turned out to be a rather scratched violin! Lily was enthusiastically inviting the woman in when the phone rang. She left the woman standing in the hallway while she answered it;
"I have read, with great interest, your advert for voluntary teachers and workers in the local Guardian newspaper in Chingford and would love to offer my services free. l am a school teacher and have a good knowledge of music theory. In fact, I have the R.A.C.M. in teaching the violin and also play viola and piano. When will it be convenient for me to come and visit you to discuss the wonderful work you intend doing?" said the well spoken caller.
Lily could not believe what she was hearing. Here there was a very cultured educated person willing to give of her time and efforts free.
"What is your name and when can we meet?” Lily interjected, for she could only meet the question head on with a question, trying to hide the excitement welling in her throat. She then took up pen and paper near the phone to take the caller's details.
"My name is Edna Frances and I do have a lot of spare time as I am living on my own, as I am a single person now. I do need to engross myself in something useful out of work hours." As she said those words and gave her present address Edna winced inwardly, remembering the pain of the agonising months of separation and then the court battle over property. She hoped that this new venture would, indeed, be her salvation from a bleak existence. She regretted that she too, like Lily, had had a childless marriage. She had friends, but they were all married and still with their partners, leading their own lives. Her best friend had become a member of the *Jehovah's Witnesses, and had lost touch with her. She had refused to follow her friend's pleadings to join them with her and obtain salvation - which she said was imminent - perhaps because of a lack of understanding of the movement's beliefs or being frightened off by her friend's evident new religious fervour. She was feeling sad, as they had been through music college and then university together. She agreed with Lily on a time to meet, and then put the phone thoughtfully down wondering what she was letting herself in for. As she was a church goer, she also wondered about the nature of the people she was about to meet. She was soon to be pleasantly surprised and reassured.
Lily turned to the lady with the violin - who was patiently standing in the hallway and listening to the phone call with evident interest - thanking her for her timely gift and telling her what she and Bert aimed to do with it. By this time Bert had finished some of his tea, and took over from Lily in seeing the woman out into the now darkening evening.
It was late Autumn, and the trees in the street were changing from a dirty light brown to an interesting yellow, and shades of red and orange caught the eye. At that moment the street lights flickered on, illuminating the straight row of smart terraced houses across the road opposite. He was always proud of their well kept small privet hedged front gardens. These hedges were evergreen and had a little white, pyramid shaped, clustered flower with a distinctive fragrance during summer. They were common in cities and their suburbs, adding a little privacy to the small front gardens.
After their visitor had gone, Bert looked at the tatty case and scratched violin.
"This will do for a start, and I hope more instruments will come our way. It will do for a child who has problems holding an instrument, and will get he or she started at least.” Bert then looked at his wife thoughtfully. "Who was it that phoned just now?"
"That was a very interesting call. It was in reply to our advert in the evening paper for helpers and teachers. She sounded very interested and said that her name was Edna and she is a school teacher. She has offered to teach our children violin, viola, and piano. She also says that she has good working knowledge of musical theory. In fact she plays in that symphony orchestra we used to play in before your accident. Anyhow, with your fingers regaining some of their movement, you will be able to forget that nasty accident you had last year. You will soon be able to play again and do some teaching yourself. I can teach recorder and cello. My deafness does not impede my playing too much!”
Lillian had been deaf since her childhood, possibly due to one of the common illnesses such as measles, and could hear high sounds better than low sounds. Why she chose the cello, she did not really know. She probably found it easier to play than the violin.
Herbert Lyon told his wife that he was looking forward to meeting the handicapped children in Hale End school next Wednesday. It will soon be June, and the warmer days leading up to the six week school summer break towards the end of July would make it easier to establish a routine of practice and, hopefully, build up a rapport with the school and the children. Perhaps an evening club may eventually be started. He would certainly try and establish a routine of Sunday morning lessons at his house after getting to know the parents, teachers, and children. One thing he was certain he had to do was handle everyone and situations with care and discretion, not allowing any ignominies to creep in. Yes, he would constantly keep on the watch and the least indication that something untoward was going on he would clamp down immediately, and the person or persons would not be allowed anywhere near the club. He could not afford to have his project jeopardised in any way, and wished everyone to benefit from his sincere efforts to better the lot of the disabled child.
Bert was very pleased with Jena's progress. She was proving a very gifted pupil and he thought she would go a long way: she was already playing duets with Lily playing piano or cello. His fingers were getting more use in them and he was attempting to play his violin again. Jena and the other handicapped children he now met gave him added incentive to get as much use back into his damaged fingers as possible. He would need to demonstrate violin technics to them, especially when he formed an orchestra.
That warm mid-May Friday night, Bert slept well in his bed, with his wife next to him, certain that his dreams sown in Egypt during the war were about to germinate and flower. Into what kind of flower he was not certain and only time would tell.
Next morning the sun streamed, once again, through the gap in the bedroom curtains. The warm glow also flooded the hallway and front room, and the noise of the milkman's horse-drawn 'milk float' raised Bert and Lily from a heavy dreamless sleep. Being a Saturday, people had had time to think about the advertisement in the local paper because most were home from their weekly rush of employment and mothers were not busy getting children off to school. He had more offers of instruments and help with transport and teaching. In fact the phone did not stop ringing that weekend.
Because he could no longer work at the joinery factory he had taken up employment as an insurance agent by joining the 'green card' disabled group which made up only two per cent of the work force. He knew that he had obtained a better class of employment in this way, as the accident had not retarded his personal fitness. This also worked very well in giving him more selective time. Yes, time was now his own to do as he pleased as long as he did his insurance rounds, enabling him to meet many parents with disabled youngsters. To his deep consternation, he discovered in his territory of East London, especially the London borough of Poplar, that many disabled adults as well as children never went past their front door. He would like to see the end of this predicament in shutting the unfortunate away out of sight, which would mean "out of mind", in changing the shameful attitudes of the parents and Local Authorities concerned. In fact, the whole country's attitude towards the disabled needed to be changed.
The Wednesday of his next visit to Hale End School came. Bert took his violin, some music and music stands he had been given by recent well-wishers, and placed them carefully in the back of his three wheeler “bomber” car which looked as if it was a cross between an old fashioned car with a fabricated folding roof, and a rowing boat! It had an open top and also incorporated a motorbike engine which made it pop and bob along on it's two front wheels and one back wheel. Bert wore a brightly coloured bobble hat and matching bright red checked woolly scarf to keep warm, as it got very windy in that strange looking car. This was the eccentric picture Bert Lyon displayed as he turned into Hale End Road Open Air school and popped and bobbed round the circular garden in the centre at the entrance. All could hear his arrival. The children were in the main hall ready and waiting for his first instruction.
He parked by the front window of the hall, enthusiastically jumped over the top of the door of his three wheeler, and then bent over to pick up a box of music from the back seat. He found the entrance to the main hall, which appeared as if it was under the Big House, to it's right. He went down the long corridor striding past wash rooms, lobbies, bathroom and clinic on either side, entering a hall approximately thirty feet long and twenty feet wide which stretched across lengthways 'under' the Big House. It had Georgian sashed windows either end. All faces were turned expectantly towards the door as he entered the hall, and all had recorders to their mouths. Mrs. Hamilton stepped forward to welcome the high spirited bobble hatted little man.
"Glad to meet you again, Mr. Lyon. Where shall we start? I have been doing my best to encourage and organise the children's recorder lessons, and will make good use of the music stands you had sent round to the school yesterday." Bert told her he had been given some more that morning. A neighbour had taken them in for him.
Herbert Gascoigne Lyon looked round and saw a few children were already seated on a row of chairs placed in the middle of the hall facing the wall to his right as he came in from the hall entrance. He put up another music stand from his box to prop up the tutoring recorder book one and started a welcoming lecture.
“I have some more music stands in my car." Bert told his small class. He had bought some with his own money, and realized that this was not going to be a cheap venture and that he and Lily would be spending a lot of their own money. Anyway, he was determined not to mind that he would never be able to look prosperous, because the authorities might otherwise think he was making money out of this new venture.
When all the music stands had been put up and every child was comfortable, Bert opened his recorder book and gave his first lesson. Unknown to everyone concerned, he hoped that this afternoon's session was going to be the start of one of the greatest ventures for the disabled in music of all time, thus setting a precedent for music therapy for all. Bert was determined that this would be so, and he vowed that he would not do it for his own glory. He felt that he was only being used by the Great Creator of Heaven and Earth to better the lot of mankind as He had used many before him. After all, His own only begotten son said, when he was on Earth 'Let the little children come to me'. The interpretation of the Great Teacher's words was that children were easily taught and more receptive to new ideas than adults. Bert called himself a 'Christian Jew' who would be quite at home in a Monastery away from nagging women. Sometimes his own wife had to put him in order with a loud shout "Bert"!
Among the children sitting in front of him was a little girl with cerebral palsy. He noticed her more than the others because she was struggling to hold her recorder and dribbled relentlessly down it's wooden tubing and seemed to be experiencing breathing difficulties as well as not being able to keep still. What was even more startling was that her right hand curled stiffly and awkwardly under the bass of the recorder but, nevertheless, she was playing the correct notes with her left hand. He was determined to find out who she was, as he was astounded that one with such difficulties should try so hard and get such surprising results in such a short space of time. It was barely a fortnight since he had visited this school and put his proposition to the headmaster, Mr. Turnball, and to Mrs. Hamilton. He was getting good results beyond his expectations. All he had expected were a few squeaks, although he was getting plenty of those out of this extraordinary group!
By the end of the afternoon he knew he could produce good results with such children and told Mrs. Hamilton he was satisfied with what she had achieved in her classroom earlier in the week. He then took his leave in his noisy open topped three wheeled car. He could not wait to tell his wife about the day's events!
That evening Bert impatiently waited for Lillian to arrive home from her secretarial job. He was a babble of enthusiasm as soon as he heard her key turn in the lock. He told her the results of his afternoon's visit to Hale End and said that the children were very keen to learn and how much each child had enjoyed his recorder session. He suggested to Lily that they open up their home for further lessons on Sunday mornings.
"This will be a marvellous opportunity to reach the parents who could become useful helpers when we start the club, hopefully, in the late autumn or early next year. I propose we get our holidays out of the way, and the six week school holidays will give the children a chance to practice before I put the preposition to Mr. Williams and Mrs. Hamilton. We may even be able to have the school hall."
"I hope you are right because it is not going be a cheap venture, neither in time nor in the sense of expenses. You do realise a lot of our money will go into this, don't you, Bert dear?" Lily smiled as she took off her shoes. She dealt with children all day, including their sometimes irate parents, in the school office where she worked, and felt least in the mood for her husband's keen enthusiasm. Her family would not be pleased either. But as she eyed the tea things Bert had placed on the table ready for her homecoming, and the welcoming aroma of Earl Grey tea wafting tantalisingly from the cup which was placed in her hand, she knew she would be behind her husband in everything he ventured to do. He was a good man but, like every human being, had his faults and one was this habit of springing his ideas on her like a leopard leaping from some vantage point onto it's prey. Anyhow, as this was one of the qualities that had attracted her to him, she aimed to go along with this latest venture of his.
"l suppose our rooms could be used as classrooms if we do have the children round here on a Sunday morning, and the parents could come too. I suspect the bathroom will be used as a classroom." she added jokingly. She always felt that a sense of humour, as well as compromise, was essential to a good marriage.
The following Wednesday, Bert's third visit to the school, brought more interested pupils into the main hall. This time some were from Mr. Thompson's class, situated at the back of the playground just in front of the ESN classes, and consisted of the brighter and older pupils preparing to leave school the following year.
Some from Mrs.Walter's class, which was one up from Mrs. Hamilton's, also seemed interested. This was the next one up for Janet and Pauline, who were both working hard at their lessons to enable them to enter in September this year.
There was nine year old Christine Biggs who had lovely long ginger hair which hung past her shoulders in ringlets, and Patricia Browser, also nine years old, who had long sleek dark brown hair. They were from Mrs. Walter's class. It was very rare to enter Mr. Thompson's class before the age of fourteen, unless the child was exceptionally bright.
They were both approached by Mr. Lyon who told them about his Sunday morning venture. He also explained it to the others, including Janet who felt very excited at the thought of extra lessons.
That Sunday morning was the beginning of blazing June, and a few disabled youngsters with their parents turned up. There were lessons in the bathroom, bedrooms and kitchen. In fact there was not a space left unused in Bert's house. The neighbours were interested in what was going on and were intrigued by the noise coming through their walls. He had had to get the permission of his neighbours, especially the ones who lived either side of him. Yes, they were very understanding and each gave their blessing to the project.
There was a knock on the front door and Janet and her father entered that very noisy house. “I will wait for Janet, for she has to get back early for dinner and then Sunday school.” Leonard said, amidst the deafening cacophony.
Janet entered the front room of Bert's house, sat on the chair near an upright piano placed to the left near the bay window, and got her recorder out of her new music case which she had insisted her mother bought for her that week.
"Let me see what you can do for me." Bert said smiling at the excited eight year old, and placed her book on the nearby music stand.
He could see that she was holding the recorder much better than she had done during those two Wednesday afternoon sessions at the school. He noticed her right hand still curled round the bottom of the instrument and the fingers still could not go anywhere near the holes. But what was so amazing was the little spastic girl had learnt all the notes and could read the music in this short time she had been introduced to them - just a space of over a fortnight.
Her father said later, “She could read all the notes in that book in just a week.” Mr. Lyon knew he had a star on his hands if he could only nurture her talent and unlock the spastic paralysis that was caused by the birth injury. He would endeavour to find out how this came about, by getting to know the family. What Bert set out to do, he knew he could eventually accomplish. Even as a boy he had never believed in harbouring negative thoughts.
He knew that some of the other disabled children would not present too many difficulties in mastering a musical instrument, as their hands and movements were stable. Yes, he knew that he could even make a reasonable sounding orchestra out of this gregarious gathering of unusual budding musicians one day! He also knew that without his intervention, not one of them would have the chance to realise their latent talents in music.
Patricia Browser and Christine Biggs had breathing difficulties and Gordon Breyers had asthma. Christine had only one and a half lungs. Pauline Carey and Mary Pentecost also had weak chests and probably other health problems. These disabled children could use their arms adequately, but Janet Collier would present even more of a challenge to him than had Jena and her cello. Seeing Janet struggling with her speech and awkward gait, Bert did wonder if the girl would stand the pace, and realized that she would have to be encouraged by everyone concerned if he was to get her to achieve her best.
* * *
The following Wednesday, the third session in the hall and his fourth visit to Hale End, saw a huge improvement in the recorder ensemble. They were playing perfect *rounds, and had gone through more than half the recorder Book One. One or two had even bought the blue recorder Book Two.
Bert thought that by the beginning of the September term he would present his pupils with 'real' instruments. Already he had been given by the public, violins, trumpets, a battered cornet, piccolos, two flutes, a cello, and a clarinet. A blind clarinetist, Roy Coyston, had telephoned him, a couple of days ago, offering to teach a pupil. He told Bert that he worked in the Walthamstow Town Hall, situated in Forest Road just down the road from Hale End Road School, past the railway bridge.
*Rounds are when two or more players come in consecutively with the same tune delayed by one or more bars. 'London's Burning' and 'Frere Jacque', are popular tunes which are often used by beginners in this way.