Bohemian Friends

I suppose my parents were a bit on the Bohemian side, but compared with some family friends they were rigidly normal. I shall not use the surname of these friends but let’s just say they were lovely people. To make them sound as real as they actually were, I’ll give them a surname and for no great reason I shall call them, or some of them, the Legges.

Roy was, I suppose, the head of the Legge household. Roy was an academic historian, a university tutor and author of books. He had a lovely house in what had been a sort of 1930s hippy commune in the heart of Sussex. Roy lived happily at his menage a trois home with his wife, Sheila and his friend Lyn. Other members of the household included Lyn’s father – I’ll call him Mr Black and Roy and Sheila’s son, David. They had a daughter as well, but she had left home by the time we used to visit the family. There were dogs as well – a couple of whippets and a sheltie. From time to time there were other people there. I recall a little girl said to be some kind of Middle Eastern princess.

Roy had a large garden and he had felled trees leaving stumps. He wanted stumps removed and decided that explosives were the way to get at them so he could remove them. He obtained a licence to use gelignite and got my dad, with a scientific background to help.

The idea was simple enough. You drilled a hole under the stump and dropped an appropriate charge of ‘jelly’ into it. The jelly had had a fuse inserted – a small charge of some less stable substance with a long burnable fuse rope attached. The fuse was lit and you all retired to a safe distance.

Here’s some of the gang.


I’m on the left and David Legge is next to me. The person in the middle, holding a fuse, is my dad. I suppose Roy took the photo and others are other visitors – there were always visitors at the Legge household.

As a kid it took me a long time to work out was going on. Sheila, in particular, seemed odd. She didn’t seem to have much to do with the running of the place. Her function seemed to be to make cream. She always wore a floor length skirt and the sheltie dog spent its life hiding under this. On top, as well as knitted jumpers, Sheila wore a coalman’s leather jerkin.

David had a day job. For a while he was a conductor on Southdown buses but when this proved too much he took to working on a mushroom farm. I think much of the job was shovelling the proverbial! He was a chess master but couldn’t handle too much in the way of responsibility. Anyway he usually seemed to materialise when we were eating. He had this uncanny ability to be one of the party without any warning. Suddenly, he’d be at the table helping himself to spaghetti and nobody seemed to have noticed him arrive.

Old Mr Black was a bluff Yorkshireman. He was devoted to his own bit of garden where he tended a lawn on which croquet could be played. He was the first person I knew to get a hover mower and he was also passionate about music, getting a stereogram long before most records were recorded stereophonically.

By comparison, Roy and Lyn seemed comparatively normal. After Sheila died in 1973, Lyn and Roy married the following year.

Roy died in 1993. Lyn in 1996.


One Response to “Bohemian Friends”

  1. An Octascope | Locksands Life Says:

    […] think, in my family, we first saw one at the home of our rather Bohemian friends. I know my dad was captivated and set about finding cheap examples for his family – or at any […]

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