Talk Report: 2016-01-13

Childhood Reflections by Peter Tinney

On Wednesday 13th January we were taken back seventy years hearing a very animated and amusing account of life on a local farm during the last war. Peter Tinney has lived and worked all his life as a tenant farmer near Wedmore, also working on farms on the Hugh Sexey estate, which his father worked before him.

We heard about Granny Page in her pinny and hairnet who came bustling down the road to deliver young Peter on 29th June 1938 and how Father, having boiled the water as was demanded, was despatched outside to cope with the cows. Father was delighted to see the eleven-pound son when he was presented with it wrapped up in a shawl, for he already had two daughters and a son was a very important contribution to the labour force.

Life on the family’s farm revolved around the small dairy herd, which Peter is proud that he continued to milk by hand until 1961. Over the years the farm grew slowly and from 37 acres when Peter was younger but expanded to 176 acres by the time he retired.

But the talk was not really about the statistics of farming. Peter has an amazing memory and sense of detail and although his stories were full of animated asides he never once lost the thread. The audience were wiping their eyes as they heard tales of his father’s practical advice on courtship (‘Ride your bike purposefully up and down past the girl you fancy until she notices you.’) and Uncle Herbert the publican’s supply of sticky mint dumps which were kept in his trouser pockets with no wrapping so were always covered with furry lint like a caterpillar.

Father would come in from milking each morning for a hearty breakfast as the three children sat at the kitchen table. He would strip off his leather waistcoat, which had three brass stud fixings. Pop- Pop-Pop would go the studs before he rolled up his sleeves and washed himself carefully in the kitchen sink. The postman would arrive for his cup of tea saying “Invoice from the corn merchants today…. hasn’t put his prices up then….” We felt we were there at the table with the family.

The talk was huge fun and Peter was thanked for giving us such a happy beginning to the New Year.