There is a passing reference to Uncle John in chapter 4 of Barefoot on the Cobbles, when he assumes the responsibility for his sister, Matilda. Born on 6 October in Bucks Mills, John was the eldest of Albert’s surviving uncles. Like his father, grandfather and brothers, John was a fisherman. In order to distinguish him from the other Johns in the same family, who also lived in the village, he was known as ‘Johnny Kivell’. He took his wife’s maiden surname as a nickname, as opposed to her christian name, which was the method adopted by the other Johns. He was also called ‘Big Johnny Kivell’ and he was renowned for his strength. He allegedly carried a hundredweight of limestone up the street. This is undoubtably an exaggeration but nonetheless, a lifetime of hauling lobster pots obviously required plenty of muscle.
Johnny Kivell and his wife Susan had eight children and they also brought up a granddaughter. He lived all his life in Bucks Mills. After he married, John made his home at number 9, now known as ‘George’s’. In the 1890s he and his growing family moved next door, to number 10, which has now been amalgamated with the adjacent cottages. The family were devout Methodists and John was instrumental in the building of the new Methodist Chapel in the village in 1907. John died on his 91st birthday, in 1930.
‘Uncle John says her [Matilda’s] language is something shocking. Her excuse is the devil’s got her tongue. Sounds like she’s gone proper mazed. She used to go to chapel regular, now she’s saying she’s going to hell. Uncle John’s been having a right time of it.’
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.