Hitting the Radio Waves and Dealing with Bureaucracy

The last few weeks have seen me wrangling with officialdom on a not infrequent basis. First there was that sinking feeling when I checked my bank account to find that I had allegedly purchased a very expensive bathroom from an outlet in Hull. Credit to the bank who had the money back in my account by the same afternoon but I did find it more than a little odd that I was asked if I was sure that I hadn’t forgotten about this purchase. Like I spend a fortune on a bathroom every day of the week. Whoever hacked my account must have lacked forethought as this was an online purchase and they presumably had to give their address for delivery!

I now have a lovely new-to-me car that is ridiculously smart and I hardly dare use it. In fact I nearly couldn’t use it as it proved almost impossible to tax and insure. Firstly, transferring my old insurance to the new car. The first person I spoke to claimed that she couldn’t identify the new car and requested more specification details than I could provide. Having ascertained that there were no more specification details, I tried again and this time got the holder of the insurance office brain cell. They could identify the car with no problem but then there was the usual hiatus because none of my occupations appear on their magic list. As I do several jobs I was asked how many hours I spent on each one – do I have any idea?! I am now down as an interpreter – my skill at languages is barely above zero. Hurrah though, there is nothing additional to pay for the remaining insurance period. Imagine my horror when the two days later I get a bill for £194 as the excess required for two months insurance – you must be joking was the polite version of my reaction. Another phone call to the insurance company. I should explain that each of these calls necessitates the caller in listening to how important their call is for a full fifteen minutes. “Our call lines are open 24/7” – no, they so aren’t. It, fortunately, transpired that the bill was a mistake but what a performance.

Then car tax. As a new owner I needed a vital part of the log book in order to tax the car online. This would be the vital part that the garage had inadvertently lost. The necessary twelve digit number was a mystery. Allegedly, it would cost £25 and take five weeks to replace the missing piece of paper. I am standing in the garage trying to collect a car that I am unable to tax and therefore, dear overseas readers, unable to drive legally. The garage receptionist sifts through the paperwork. She finds an eleven digit number. Using the mobile phone of a random fellow customer (my emergency phone is ten years old – it make phone calls – period) we go online and try the eleven digit number prefixed by a zero – eureka I have a taxed car. It still seems far too posh. It has a radio that changes colour as you drive along. Actually this is highly irritating and despite pushing, pulling and twisting every available knob and button, it does not seem to turn off but I am learning to ignore it as it blends from pink to yellow to blue.

We also had a car park incident – we really aren’t fit to be let out. We’d collected our ticket on entry to a multi-story car park and were queuing to pay on exit when the car two in front of us caused chaos by apparently losing their ticket. I’ll not lie, during the ten minute wait my driver was more than scathing. It is our turn to exit, we can‘t seem to see the slot for putting our money in. It turns out that we should have paid and validated our ticket at a machine two floors away before joining the queue. Guess who was dispatched at a run to accomplish this task. The fifteen people in the queue behind us barely hooted their horns.

My success at naming the Mutant Hero Ninja Turtles during my last outing to a local quiz went before me and I was asked to make up a team again. Did my alleged prowess at history stand me in good stead this time? No. My claim to fame on this occasion was to provide the name of a member of Take That!

Last week I had an invitation to be interviewed about my books on Radio Wolverhampton. Did I want to come into the studio, I was asked, or be interviewed on the telephone? No brainer that one. So tonight at 8.10pm I will be interviewed by Philip Solomon. His email told me that past interviewees include Noddy Holder, Chas & Dave, P J Proby, Alvin Stardust, Uri Geller, Neil Morrisey, Ken Dodd, Leo Sayer and errrr now me. I expect it will be a blink and you miss it occasion but if you are really short of things to do tonight you can it seems listen online if you have downloaded the appropriate thingy.

A Post for Peter

DSCF2572When Peter’s sister, Lucy, was born, I wrote about her direct maternal line. Four months later and her cousin Edward’s post was about grandparenthood. Now it is Peter’s turn. When I learned what his name was to be my immediate reaction was that it was a new name for our family but actually it isn’t. I can only comment on his maternal ancestry but there are six Peters amongst his known direct ancestors on this side of the family. What follows is their story; young Peter needs to be aware that he can’t choose his ancestors!

Three of the Peters are members of the Elford family, grandfather, father and son; baby Peter’s 12, 11 and 10 x great grandfathers. The eldest of these is one of our earliest known ancestors and very little is known about him. Peter Elford senior was baptised in Mary Tavy, Devon in 1584, the son of William and Joan Elford née Cudlipe. At this time, Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne and Walter Raleigh found Roanoke Island in North America. Mary Tavy, four miles north of Tavistock, on the edge of Dartmoor, was in the nineteenth century home to the world’s largest copper mine. It is likely however that the Elfords were yeoman farmers. Peter senior married Jane Bowden in 1606, the year Guy Fawkes was executed and Macbeth and King Lear were first performed. They had eight children. One of their daughters, Joanna, is a strong candidate for the Joanna Elford who was indicted for witchcraft in 1671. The youngest child, Peter, was baptised in 1622. In 1641, two Peter Elfords signed the Protestation Return in Mary Tavy; probably Peter senior and his son. Peter senior died in 1650.

The second Peter Elford married Katheren Wills in 1646, just as the first phase of the English civil war was coming to an end. Peter served as parish constable and churchwarden for Mary Tavy. A lease dated 1669/70 shows that Peter was a yeoman of Peeke’s Tenement in Mary Tavy. Peter and Katheren had five children. Their son, the youngest Peter Elford, was baptised in 1647. He married Margery Spiller in 1676, just as Christopher Wren was putting the finishing touches to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. They too had five children.

A pair of Peter Geachs, father and son, are young Peter’s 10 and 9 x great grandfathers. Peter Geach senior married Frances Addams in St. Mellion, Cornwall in 1674. He leased a property called Forse Field, Viverdon Common in St. Mellion and was described as a husbandman. Only two children have been found for Peter and Frances. Peter Geach junior was baptised in 1675. He and his wife, Anne née White, moved from St. Mellion to nearby St. Dominick, where they had four children.

Norham village green


The most recent Peter is Peter Eadington, young Peter’s 6 x great grandfather. Edington and its rarer variant, Eadington, is a surname found predominantly in Northumberland. It is a locational name, taken from the hamlet of Edington (Ida’s town), which is three miles south west of Morpeth. Peter Eadington arrives in the family history as the father of Isabella E(a)dington who was baptised at St. Cuthbert’s, Norham, Northumberland on the 29th of June 1789 to Peter Eadington and Isabella Mather. Baptisms in the area do sometimes give mothers’ maiden names but the entry suggests that Peter and Isabella Mather were not married. This is borne out by the existence of a bastardy bond citing Peter Edington, a miller of Norham, as the father of Isabella Mather’s unborn illegitimate child. There are other baptisms in Norham for children of Peter E(a)dington around this time. He appears to have had four children by Alice, to whom it seems he was married and another illegitimate child by Mary Brown in 1794.

Norham is right on the Scottish border and it has been difficult to identify the site of the mill. Local folklore suggests that it was on the site of what is now Tower Cottages and the adjacent ‘vennel’, or alley, is known as The Mill Opening. A painting of 1907 depicts what might be a sail-less windmill. Ordnance survey maps however suggest that this structure was a dovecot. The deeds of 14 Castle Street, next to Tower Cottages, confirm that a miller lived there but there is no certainty that the mill was next door. The Tithe Map and schedule site a mill on the opposite side of the village green however there were no male Eadingtons in the parish at that date. This building is near a tributary of the River Tweed and would almost certainly have been a water mill. There was no building on the site of this mill by 1898. Even if the site of the mill could be identified, there is no proof that this was the mill worked by Peter Eadington. Call Books listing freeholders for the manor of Norham Town do not list Petter {sic} Eadington until 1795 and he sells his freehold to principal landowner Sir Francis Blake in 1805. The land tax for 1798 mentions a mill in the hamlet of Twizel in Norham so it may be that Peter worked here before moving in to the centre of the village.

So, just tiny fragments of Peter’s ancestry and rather a mixed bunch but all part of the rich tapestry that is our family’s history.