My Life by Lionel Graves. (Page 2)


I was born in a nursing home in Herriot Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow on the 4th May, 1926 on the day of the great strike.  Mother had come back from Uganda for the birth and was staying with her school teacher cousins, Because of the strike the doctors could not reach the nursing home and I was delivered by the nurses and midwives.


For the first few months I must have been spoilt to death, on one occasion I started choking and going blue in the face and a friend upended me holding me by the heels and thumped my back till the crisis passed.


When a few months old, Mother took me by boat out to Kenya and then to Eldoret; Uganda, where I learned to speak Buganda better than my parents, from my Ayah or black nurse.  One notable event happened here which I obviously don't remember, but I was playing in my room one afternoon while Mother was having a rest when I called out “Doo-doo”, Mummy, doo-doo”, (Swahili term to cover any kind of bug or insect).  She came in and found a large black mamba snake not far from me, she called the boy and he came in with a stick and killed it, after my prompt removal of course.


My recollections are very disjointed at this age but I remember attending Forest Road Infant School in Nairobi.  Strangely enough a girl at Hallow School many, many years later had gone to the same school. Just two memories, asking Mother to hide my pram behind a bush before reaching the gate and secondly a sand table with Arab or Bedouin tents and plasticine palm trees.


One night there was an earth quake and I can remember the house shaking – then going to the hospital to have my tonsils removed and listening on earphones to a wireless children's programme telling a story about a mosquito – we didn't have a wireless then, I don't think.


My sister Jean was born in Nairobi hospital 14th March 1930 and Mother used to tell us that a band of the King's African Rifles was playing their regimental march past 'Men of Harlech'.  Over that period I stayed with family friends, Roy and Judy Douglas and their sons Norman and Jimmy.


We were playing in a wood on Forest Road with some other boys Japan vs. China as this was the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.  I was taken prisoner and tied to a tree, then they all left and I was abandoned for quite a while.  I think they got a severe thrashing for that.  Another time, although I was not there, Jimmy climbed a large tree in their back garden and couldn't get down again, his mother made him stay there till his father came home from work – another hiding, but it couldn't have harmed him because I heard later that he became the youngest merchant ship's captain in New Zealand.


I played alone quite a lot at home because there were not many young children neighbours, I remember vaguely a raised concrete ramp from house to kitchen which was a separate building and I used to play at soldiers, sitting on an old barrel.  Went once to some adult friend's house and was most disappointed that they had sold some books, seen on a previous visit, showing wars and pictures of cavalry charges.


Taken to a circus and the only thing I can recall is a cowboy throwing a lasso, at any rate I went home, got a metal hoop from the barrel tied a long piece of string to it then threw it at a passing motor cyclist, he stopped and called at the house.  I ran away in to the woods opposite and stayed till dark, finally going home to just punishment, it can't have been too bad because the folk were worried.



    ..\My Pictures\Dad with Nanny.jpg  

Figure 1. 17th April 1927 with ayah.  


 ..\My Pictures\Dad high chair.jpg   

Figure 2. Lionel 2years old. 


 Dad child.jpg

Figure 3 Lionel. Aged 3 years old during leave in Glasgow.


  ..\My Pictures\Dad with friends .jpg

Figure 4. Jimmy Douglas, Lionel & Norman Douglas.  


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