#100daysofbfotc Day 31: Percy Cornelius


Western Daily Mercury 20 January 1912

We only meet Percy Cornelius when the other characters, who share his Torquay household, mention him. You would be justified in asking why he appears in Barefoot on the Cobbles at all. He is included because his existence and his subservient attitude towards his wife, help to explain her attitudes and behaviour.

It appears that Percy lived in Torquay all his life. He was born in July 1881 and baptised at Upton parish church. Percy lived with his family in Market Street, Torquay and attended the local infants’ school. As a teenager, Percy, a butcher’s assistant, was summonsed for leaving a horse and trap unattended. The horse wandered off. The police had warned Percy about not securing his trap on previous occasions and he was fined ten shillings, or seven days’ imprisonment.

In 1912, when he was working as a manager for Messers Nelson of 186 Sidwell Street, Exeter, he was fined again, this time for adulterating sausages with boric acid. This was used as a preservative but could have harmful effects. Its use was not banned but it should have been labelled. The sausages had actually been made in Bristol but Percy was fined £2 plus costs for allowing them to be sold. This incident was referred to in an early draft of chapter 11 but suffered under the delete button’s mighty power.

Percy married in 1913 and he and his wife had two further children after Kathleen, who is mentioned in the novel. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Percy was a bus cleaner living in Chatto Road, Torquay. He died in 1967.

‘I don’t suppose it affected you in the countryside but we’ve had trouble obtaining foodstuffs here. Of course, there’s never a problem with meat, Mr Cornelius being a butcher but we’d like to have a few more vegetables for the table.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

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