I’d heard of gloworms. but thought of them as fairies or elves . As I’d never seen one until 1939
when i was 16 I first saw them on the stairs in the Welcombe Hotel in Stratford on Avon.
The stairs were concrete and lead to the staff quarters. they looked lovely glowing in the dark but when I struck a match to look closer they were just a plain insect. I’ve never seen them anywhere else since.
It must have been in July I’d like to explain how a young lad from Northumberland came to be in a posh hotel in Warwickshire, I had been working in Choppington Brickyard a while and fancied a change of scenery. My mother gave me seven shillings and sixpence roughly thirty five pence in today’s currency. I caught the Sunderland traffic veered to the left so I was placed just for traffic going due south.
I wasn’t there long till a lorry pulled up and I climbed aboard. He was going to Borobridge that was a 100 mile lift. He dropped me off at a junction and said that I’d soon get picked up from there. My object was to get to my Uncle Tommys in Hillingdon nr Uxbridge. Another couple of lifts got me to London and I got to Hillingdon on the Metro.
Each morning I got the London paper looking for jobs and on the third day I got an interveiw at St Pancras for a veg and breakfast cook at Stratford. They gave me a travel warrant and off I went. They asked me if I could cook breakfast I said yes, but I didn’t realise it was for 600 guests. So I became a commi veg cook we did lunches then had three hours off then did an evening shift until 11pm. There was 3 Italian cooks they didn’t know whether to return to Italy to fight for Mussolini. They stayed and would be interned’ The head chef was Swiss. the sauce chefs were from Liverpool they had worked on the liners
The kitchen clerk was from Liverpool too he shouted out the orders in French. The kitchen porter was about 25 he had fallen out with the head chef but it was on the cards I would change jobs with him but the declaration of war stopped that and they closed the hotel
When we finished our evening shift we walked throught the fields to the swimming pool at Stratford we climb over the barrier and dived into the pool but it was the river Avon and our hands sunk into the mud if we dived steep. On my evening off I’d walk to Stratford for a couple of pints. The walk was through the fields it was ok in daylight when you could see the cattle but returning in pitch blackness and feeling cattle stampeding was an awful experience.
I just stood petrified when the sound of hooves faded away I proceeded but must have lost my way so Isat until dawn then saw I had passed the hotel grounds. When war was declared I just headed home. But not before I had a practice drive of a 3 wheel van. The man was asking £15 for it. I had saved £25 but decided against the van and caught the bus to Newcastle. I wonder if there are still Gloworms there. Who knows I may get a chance to look but it will have to be pitch black to see them glow….

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