My Life by Lionel Graves. (Page 3)


Dad was walking along the road one night when a man in a truck with poles sticking out sideways not length ways, hit him on the head and knocked him in the ditch, he was found later and had to go in to hospital for stitches but was otherwise alright.


Then we moved to Mombasa, bungalow on the seafront overlooking the golf course, we had a houseboy, Jerogi, I think, a cook and a gardener.  There was a small house or shed at the back where one of them lived.  I used to call in to see them and remember seeing them chase a large centipede, cut it in half and the two halves ran different ways.  I played with the chameleons in the garden putting them on brightly coloured material but they never performed very satisfactorily.

 ..\My Pictures\Bungalow Mombasa.jpg           ..\My Pictures\Bungalow Mombasa 2.jpg

Bungalow at Mombasa, 1932-35.


A hodge podge of Mombasa memories, running in races on sports days and saying when warned not to look behind, “No need, I can see them all in front.”  Going swimming on Christmas morning in Dad's old blue Overlander, an American car with running board, pushing it to start then jumping on quickly, he sold it for £10 when we came home.  Dad's performing act as a shoe mender with mouth full of nails singing, “With a mush mush tooraliaddy, with a mush mush rooraliay, there's neer a gossoon in the village, dare tread on the tail of my coat”.

He also used to let fly with “The sun is ashining to welcome the day, Heigh Ho, come to the fair”.



On our windup gramophone we played, “The King's horses the King's men.  Marched up the hill and they marched down again.  The Kings.... Noel Coward I think, at any rate they weren't there to fight the foe, oh o dear no, they were there because they'd got to go and put a little pep into the Lord Mayor's Show”.  Another was the Tale of the Nancy Lee.  A ship that sailed far out to sea.  The captain sat in the captain's chair and he played his ukulele as the ship went down.

Finally “Ali Baba's camel bowed down and licked his hand.  He said “Oh Ali Baba I’m sure you'll understand.  If we don't reach an oasis, or get some water soon...” (Here my memory fails me – but they don't write them like that any more).


Always played at bedtime was The Giant's Magic/Secret Garden by Oscar Wilde I think, about an unfriendly giant finally making friends with a group of children.


Our food safe used to have its legs in tins with Jeyes fluid in to stop insects crawling up.  Jean drank some and was force fed spoons of mustard to make her sick it all up.


Went to a few films, one silent black and white, one with subtitles was about an Eskimo, I can remember the baddy trappers and it finished with the Eskimo and his wife drifting away in the sunset on an iceberg, it must have been that classic – Nanook of the North.


Further songs have just came back to me, “Carolina Moon keep shining” which was played as a lullaby and one line of another has stuck in my mind, but I don't suppose I shall ever find out where it came from, “Gaily the troubadour sings to his lady love”. Another of life's great mysteries.


When I was seven, I was sent to Nakuru school as a boarder.  Mother came first time as it was a twenty four hour journey by train, the other times I travelled alone with the other boys and girls who increased in number at the stations along the way.  We passed through marvellous countryside with plenty of giraffe, elephants, wildebeest, zebra and antelope but can't remember lions or rhinos.  There was always a list of defaulters handed in by the guard to the Headmaster and retribution was swift and painful, being one of the youngest I avoided this.


One night playing in the dormitory after lights out, I was running round a set of cupboards about 3ft high in the middle of the room and ran slap bang into the middle of the Head, went to his study where I had two or three strokes of the cane in my pyjamas, but they can't have been too hard.  Another time messing about I threw a pair of socks out of the window but can't remember how that ended up.


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