“Even as a boy I could discern who had the best of these transactions. I made a resolution that never would I back horses as long as I lived- and I never have.” (P. 44)
Arthur attended Meanwood board school until he was 13 years old. Arthur’s education played a massive role in his life; his ability to read and write set him apart from many of his social comrades. This was never more apparent than when Arthur was called to serve for his country, meeting and befriending men who could not even read or write. On occasion Arthur obliged them, reading and replying to their letters from loved ones. This was a testament to Arthur’s character, and his truly kind nature.
Arthur’s memories of school and his teachers are recalled in fondness, an agreeable and intelligent boy Arthur recalls a memory of his teacher Miss Rowe – giving him a present. The present now seems meagre but back in Arthur’s day was quite a prize, she gave him a cardboard model of a bus and horses. Arthur reminisces on how it made him feel “swelled head.”
Although Arthur appeared to excel in school, he was also very much a student of life. Influenced heavily by his father and the people who surrounded him, Arthur watched keenly in his father’s shop reminiscing upon the people who came in and out of his life, recalling the men who worked for his father, their traits and characteristics and the role they played in shaping Arthur’s life.
It is very apparent to the reader, and a child of today that Arthur was an incredibly astute child, tuned to the world around him. Arthur’s family, although religious did not seem to use religion as a crutch, nor did they let it dictate how they lived their lives.
Arthur jovially remembers many a character venturing into his father’s shop in order to partake in debates about religion, politics and economics. Arthur recalls a quaint man Bob Sutcliffe with great humour, telling of man who was terrified of thunder, a man who had ‘quaint’ little sayings: “Little cattle, little care.”
These experiences, although not alone shaped Arthur, educating him to the world he would, in adult years, be only too exposed too.
Although Arthur’s memories of childhood and education were not always happy, they always taught him valuable lessons. Arthur was reliable trustworthy man who had great family values and work ethics, a man who worked to provide for his family and in the face of adversity always stayed positive. The reader feels that early experiences, such as ‘Shoddy Siddle’ robbing Arthur’s fathers cobbler shop taught Arthur the harshness of life, without making him cynical and cold. Arthur was wise to the world he lived, but through his writing one can see he wasn’t cold or removed, he did not let his experiences mar him, much like Arthur’s recollection of his father, Arthur always seemed to bounce back.