Cufflinks

Clearing out a drawer the other day, my Mum came across a small box containing a pair of cufflinks and shirt pins and a piece of paper inscribed ‘these were my Bruce’s studs – with love from Aileen’.

image_1425488092_5128

Aileen or Auntie Aileen as we knew her was my Grandfather’s sister, my Dad’s aunt. My Grandfather Cecil William Farrar Laurie and his sister Marie Aileen Lorna Laurie had been born in Barbados where the family once owned a sugar plantation.

The Bruce in the inscription was Bruce Hamilton, he and Aileen had married at the end of 1934 and it’s possible my dad, born in 1939, had been named for Bruce. He also received Farrar for his middle name, as I did later, a surname from Aileen’s branch of the family descended from Colonel Thomas Austin, another Barbados plantation owner, albeit it a much earlier one having been born there in 1728. This branch of the family included Austin Farrar who had been taught to write by Enid Blyton but was better known for inventing the ‘pulpit’, a guard rail that fits around the bow of a sailing yacht as a safety handhold and also for designing anti-torpedo nets during the Second World War. These two inventions have been credited with saving innumerable lives at sea.

Bruce and his younger brother Patrick Hamilton were both authors, Patrick being the more critically acclaimed author of ‘Hangover Square’, ‘Rope’ and with one of his plays, ‘Gaslight’, turned into the 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman. ‘Gaslighting’ has entered the colloquial English language as the term commonly used for a form of physiological manipulation as experienced by the Bergman character in the film. Bruce’s most renowned works were the cricket based novel ‘Pro: An English Tragedy’, a poignant portrayal of the life of an English County cricketer around the time of the First World War. Patrick died in 1962 and Bruce in 1974, shortly after completing his brother’s biography ‘The Light Went Out: The Life of Patrick Hamilton’.

Aileen, an artist in her own right, was an infrequent visitor in the 1970’s to the quiet Northamptonshire village where her brother and his large extended family lived. I don’t remember much of these times as I was quite young, but I do remember she always seemed to be drawing. She would often make pencil sketches of the children and I’m sure many members of the family have these tucked away in old family photo albums.

Aileen Pic 1.jpg

My last memory of Aileen was from when I was perhaps 14 or 15, which would have been around 1986 when my Mum and Dad and I travelled to Brighton to visit her. Aileen died in 1987, my Dad in 2015 and now thirty years after first being given, these small mementos of both Bruce’s lives have come out into the open again.

C.W.F. Or Cecil William Farrar to give him his full name is my paternal grandfather, Aileen’s brother.

One thought on “Cufflinks

  1. Hi, I am a cousin living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Daughter of Edmund and Joyce Emtage née Laurie. My mother was your grandfather’s and Aileen’s sister, born 1904. My brother, Michael, knew your father quite well and would visit every now and then. I have written to various of your family members every Christmas for years and years; first your grandmother, Esther, then Doris and now Marie Moroz. Unfortunately our parents, with the cousins rarely saw each other, and that is a great pity. We lived in Norfolk on a small farm and all of you in Northants which meant that our paths didn’t cross. And as you may remember getting away from animals is no easy task!

    I am very interested in what you have written about Bruce’s cuff links and remember both he and Aileen staying with us. Aileen was a hoot as well as being very annoying and she and my mother would not infrequently become cross with each other! My mother and your grandfather were very close growing up and both lived with their grandfather in the country where he was a parson.

    I believe someone in your family has been doing some further digging into the family tree. Michael’s wife, Evelyn, told me that you have further additions. If you would like to share them I know that Evelyn and I would be very pleased to receive them and get further news of you all.
    In the mean time I hope that this finds you and your family well.
    Judy

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s