Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Three Choirboys





Master Ernest Lough singing ‘O, For The Wings of a Dove’ was my introduction to the voice of the boy soprano. The recording was made just over ninety years ago last month, March 1927, and was often played on the radio when I was growing up.

His story is told in his obituary below, by Jeremy Nicholas, who also contributed to a BBC programme about Ernest Lough and the famous recording. The programme can be found on YouTube here.













































My second choirboy, with the rather serious and solemn expression, is my Mother’s brother, Sydney William, know as Billy. For many years this is how I knew him, as an enlargement of this portrait hung in my grandparents’ house.

Billy often appears in posts about my mother’s childhood as they were so close in age, only sixteen months between them. Imagine the devastation felt by the family when Billy died in a freak accident, aged only fifteen in 1934. My grandparents themselves were still young, in their late thirties, and Mum was a month shy of her fourteenth birthday.


St Saviour’s was also where my parents married during WW2 and Mum is seen here talking to some children, probably about her memories of the occasion. I think this was taken on their Ruby Wedding Anniversary in 1982.

The Nottingham Evening Post report of his death carried the same portrait of Billy as a choirboy, at the local church.




Aled Jones is my third choirboy, the one who my own children grew up with as they sang along to his recording of ‘We’re Walking in the Air’. In the animation of Raymond Brigg’s wonderful picture book, The Snowman, it was another choirboy, Peter Auty, who sang the anthem, but Aled made the record, so he was the one who became famous. Fortunately Aled Jones grew into a very pleasant adult performer and TV presenter and wasn’t spoiled by his fame at all.

He can be seen on YouTube here singing with his younger self.

My post this week was inspired by this wonderful portrait of three choirboys from The Past On Glass at The Sutton Archives.

Go over to Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors have made of this picture prompt.




12 comments:

  1. I couldn't help but be drawn back several times to the face of your mother's brother. What lovely dark eyes he had, but what a terribly sad expression, as if he had the weight of the world on him. A lovely image to have all the same.

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  2. Goodness this was fun, and very interesting too. Thanks for adding the link to youtube too, it's been too long since I've posted here and I really need to get back in the swing of it again.

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  3. Very sad story of your mother's brother. I was just listening to Aled Jones here on Melbourne on ABC Radio talking about how he found the One Voice recording in his parents' airing cupboard and other stories about his life. You probably can't listen to the interview unless you are in Australia, but here is the link to it just in case you can. My mother was a big fan. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/programs/afternoons/aled-jones/8422684

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    1. Thank you Jo. I had no trouble listening to the whole interview. No music, but I guess that was for copyright reasons.

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  4. The story about young Billy is very sad, and his photo really draws the eye. If Billy had lived it would still be a great photo.

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  5. I enjoyed your trio of choir boys - with both a celebration of their voices, but a mourning at the sad tale of your brother. I well remember with my parents listening to Ernest Lough many times on the radio - the Sunday programmes "100 Best Tunes" and "Melodies for You" - thank you for reminding me of hislife. Classic FM is my favourite radio station so I regularly hear Aled Jones both as performer and presenter. I didn't feel quite the same way one Christmas when I was working in a shop and "Walking on the Air" was played continuously - I couldn't stand it after days of hearing the piece over and over again!

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  6. An interesting take on the theme - 3 separate choir boy stories. The story of Billy is sad to be sure, but I have to wonder how the other boy felt? Apparently nothing directly related to his actions in the 'scuffle' could be attributed to Billy's death, but I know how I'd feel if I'd been simply arguing with someone and they collapsed and died. Imagine a 13 year old boy having to deal with that!

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    1. I’ve wondered the same. Did his family talk about it, the way my family talked about it?

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  7. The story of your uncle's death is so sad. I wonder if they ever found the cause.
    Finding Eliza

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    1. The coroner’s report said it was failure of the heart, brought on by an inhibition of the phrenic nerve on the left side, probably caused by a dislocaton of the 4th cervical vertebrae, causing a haemhorrhage. Death by misadventure. he died very quickly.

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  8. Three wonderful stories. What a sweet and pure voice Aled had as a child. I like the addition of his adult voice as well. The story of your uncle reminds me of a number of reports in the news of young athletes dying unexpectedly during a game, all of whom had a previously-undiagnosed heart condition. One can only sigh looking at Billy's portrait - such a handsome boy, such intensity in his expression - what would he have done with his life?

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    1. I don’t think it was an undiagnosed heart condition, but a rare accident. See my reply to Kristin.

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