Being Tony, Chapter One, Part one

Lynn News: Births Announcements

PLATT Congratulations to Mark and Samantha on the birth of BENJAMIN STUART on 2nd of June 1953, younger brother of ANTHONY JOHN

I always say that I grew up in a mansion, and like many of the things I say, it’s true in a general sense.

My father worked on a farm, and my parents rented part of an old country seat of a nobleman who had fallen on hard times. The mansion itself was really impressive but had been divided up into a lot of smaller homes, and we lived in the basement in what used to be the servants quarters.

I assume I had the room to myself until Ben was born, but I don’t remember a time back then when we didn’t share a bedroom. Most of my memories of home, however, are of the large kitchen/dining room, which always seemed to be cold even in the hottest of days. I have some good memories of it, but my most vivid memories are of sitting on the floor by the fire playing with Ben, and hearing my parents from the other end of the room. Usually, it was just routine things, but sometimes their voices started to get louder, and when one of us tried to say something we were told to be quite because our parents were having a “grown-up conversation.”

This often ended up with Dad putting on his coat and down to the village, and Mother noisily cleaning up the kitchen. Later, when Ben and I were in bed I’d hear Dad come back in, and sometimes the voices would carry on, but mostly there was silence for days afterward.

From those early days, I remember how much fun it was in the long summer months to go out with Ben and play in the fields that surrounded us. The mansion we lived in was set back about a mile from the sea, and with nothing but rolling farmland between us and the sandy beach. Along this part of the coast, the tide goes out for miles, leaving the vast expanse of glistening sand, and making a fantastic playground for a young kid. There was always something to explore, shells to dig up, and occasionally a dead fish or bird to examine.

Our village was about a mile in the other direction, and at the time, it seemed like the most exciting place in the world. Really it was just a little collection of cottages, a church, a couple of stores and three pubs. The market town of Lynn was another 15 miles away, but it might as well have been in a different country for all we knew about it. Every month or so, Mother would go “up to town” and spend the day in the Lynn shops. Sometimes she took us, but I was happier wading barefoot in the sand pools than walking the streets of Lynn. Between us and Lynn, the resort of Hunstanton was the bright spot during the summer, always full of tourists and day-trippers up from the city. Us local kids preferred our own small area of the beach, where we could talk to the fishermen, play in the sand dunes and spend the long hot summer days just being happy to be alive.

I remember one day we discovered a new game when we happened upon some driftwood on the shore. Filled with some strange fantasy idea, I decided that we would make a boat and sail all the way across the sea to Germany. Ben looked a bit worried at my suggestion, but I told him it would be OK, and that we could get some cake there, so we set about building our craft.

It took about 3 days to find the string to tie the ship together, get all the equipment I thought we would need, and then to put my plan into operation. We waited until the next high tide and pushed our craft into the waves. It was a calm sunny morning, and for a time, we floated gently along with a slight breeze. It wasn’t long before Ben started to complain about being hungry, and wanted to know when we would reach Germany and the cake I had promised him.

Soon the sun began to set, and the adventure didn’t seem so much fun anymore. We were both soaked to the skin and starting to shiver violently when we saw one of the local fishing boats approaching.

Mother and Dad had missed us and reported us missing to the police, who, in turn, had alerted the local fishermen to keep an eye out. I remember how much the fishermen laughed when they pulled us out of our craft and the smell of fish as we sat there. I thought it strange when they gave me a cold drink to warm me up, but when I swallowed it, I thought my throat was on fire, and my gasps made the men laugh even more.

Needless to say, we were severely punished for our escapade, and I don’t think we were allowed out on the beach for many months after that. We had to go to the police and apologize for wasting their time, and thank the fishermen for their kindness, but every time I started to explain about wanting to float to Germany they just started laughing all over again. Soon it became the talk of the village, and for a while, we were known as the German brothers.

To be continued…