“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
In 2004 after my retirement, I dabbled like many of us pensioners, dreaming, of our childhood, in my case racking my brains to remember all the things that my fathers, mother had told me, if Will Shakespeare was right, could what I had learned be a tale worth telling and would my sons Children be interested in what I had to say.
At an age when 8 hours in bed, is no longer a luxury but a complete waist of time, I began a Blog, after 65 years in the one trade, Gambling I was sure that my knowledge would be of benefit, to others Not so, for the very trade, that has given me a great life and secured for me, perhaps more than my fair share of happyness. this is were a problem arose, for what I learned in someone elses, hand can be toxic.
To invite those who do not have the right aptitude, for Gambling Success, it was better for me to gloss over much of the family trade, and just create the history that my great grand parents, built on from 1850s.through two of the worlds most terrible conflicts. It was my granddad Albert, who first informed me that Shakespeare missed a trick, in not stating that life is just a game of Snakes and Ladders. one minute climbing up. and the next slithering down.
But it was when I found Ancestry a genealogy page that the whispers, about family members, could be double checked. I thought I would spend the many hours I have at my disposal.on this project if every one was an actor on a world stage, I wanted to know what became of all my loved ones during the last 150 years what part were they given, and did they make good use of there place in the scheme of things.
For at the end of life, there is a long time to dwell on how good an act, a person had been.
Born into a Church of England religion through, sunday school. the boys brigade, singing in the church choir my mother had instilled in me to love my family above all else. and the first few years if my life shaped me for the future.
To be Kind, to all others, and treat every one certainly our elders with dignity the first thing I remembered was my manners, every one was treated with good morning, Sir or madam, and a great deal of thank you.
So from the very start of my life, I remembered my mother telling me, what great children we were. and how proud she was that strangers would comment,
Of course once we arrived at school. to act, the part of the Nice Boy didn’t always impress Kids my own age, having been placed in Highters Heath, Junior, I always sat next to a young girl same age, I couldn’t help notice she was sad,
Back home that night I mentioned this to my mother, whom told me to share my lunch box with her.
However I could not help her from shivering all day, even her shoes had been made by her mother out of card board.
However within a week at the senior school Yardley Wood, being a nice kid, was a massive disadvantage. for the biggest, shock was the amount of bullying, that took place, at school. in church or at the boys brigade.
I had enough confidence to keep out of trouble when ever I could. but one day for no reason I was informed that Evans wanted to fight me after school.
Why in earth would a relative stranger to me wish to engage in a battle. I was never a coward, but I was in my best suit for after school my Dad and Mom were to take me and my brother to the pictures and the last words , T remembered my mother saying was, stay clean. for we are going out straight after school.
The next day kids in my class were hooting coward, coward. I was confused, and that night, I nentioed the incident to my brother. 3 years older. hr didnt help by adding Evans is a strong Lad. with 5 brothers. not exactly what I wished to hear.
My mother, Edith, had explained why I was being bullied. it is because you are well behaved, and liked by the school teachers, when many of the pupils were not as fortunate as you are,
You have a clean shirt and tie, and polished shoes. when some of the Kids were wearing hand me downs, and even Birmingham Mail Boots, just ignore the bully.fortunately for me Evans had more than one in his sites and after school I was informed he had received a kicking by Bernard Jones, the school cock.
The people I remember as being a great influence, were my grand father on my mothers side Albert Sydney Russell, and certainly my father’s Mom, Charlotte Jessie, when ever I needed advice that was sensitive to a mother.
Albert like many of those born in 1877 were poor enough, to find it exiting to enlist, for WW1. and fight for a better world, by joining in the Great war 1914-1918. It appeared that whatever happened to him in the battles he came home a broken, old man, having seen things that he would whisper, when ever I enquired,
“You dont want to know Son”
He had joined as a fit man as strong as an ox and within 18 months, came out a broken old man, unfit for work, and a future, as near to Hell as possible.
His misfortune was being in a September battle 1915. when the The newly formed Special Gas Companies attacked German lines at Loos.
In the attack, the German’s had delivered their chlorine by using pressurised cylinders. the British also used chlorine gas that was released, from the British front line the plan was that the Gas would drift, over the enemy lines, and stop them in there tracks.Alberts platoon, went over the top. to attack however only a loving God, who enjoyed creating great but bloody story line’s would have planned a change in the wind. when the brits and Albert included, ran straight into there own Gas.
with over 2,000 casualties and seven fatalities. Albert was one of many bit actors, who stood to attention whilst clouds of Gas drifted over them as the change of wind direction delivering the poison blew back whence it came. a great scene, for any director, perhaps but it was a great pity that these 100s of thousand of men, were no matinee Idols with a chance of glory, but just part time actors. who wished they were home.
Jane Russell, Alberts loving wife, kept her home like a castle in a slum. Balsall Heath was the dumping ground for all the immigrants, of the day Irish in there droves, Jewish, all looking for a better world. It was this home where my brother and I would be dropped off every Saturday nights, so that my father and mother, could go to there favoured pub to meet there friends, and relations.
As soon as we arrived, Nanny Jane would send me for a pint of ale, covered in a tea towel so that the neighbours, would not know, that she drank every night, I was also given a small tot of whisky for Albert to sip. his only means of prescription.
Nans home, in 1930 was as clean as a brush, her cooking immaculate her love for her children, complete and that of her grand children, also.
It was during the blitz, of 1940. when I saw the danger that the family were in, although we were living in as safe an area as it was possible to find. only the very worst, german pilot. on a bombing raid on the Birmingham City Centre would be 7/8 miles out.but it didn’t stop my parents worrying about there loved ones stuck in the middle of bombing raids nightly.
It is worth spending time on Albert and his participation in the Great War, he did find his way home and for many years, sat gasping whilst sitting on his favourite chair, placed for him, outside the front door. his lungs, that had once supported his great runs from the defence, allowing him a strike at gaol. and football glory was no longer an option. the local team disbanded, those that returned, not enough for a 5 a side game.
It was pitiful to watch his pain and suffering, if he had been one of the families pets, he would have been dispatched, putting him out of his terrible misery.
As a young Kid of 8 It was a chore to travel. from our family home in the peaceful surrounding of Yardley Wood and Warstock, an area, only a bike ride from Earlswood lakes and not much further to Henley in Arden, we all had bikes, and would go fishing but spent a great deal of time, on the farmers, land, opposite our home. scrumping (Stealing Apples)
I can only guess that when my father purchased this house in 1933. perhaps he had foresight
that to be away from the city centre of the country’s 2nd city. was a good move perhaps he had seen the script.
But with internet I could go further back than Albert,
In 1869 there was an event, that was to be fundamental. in my upbringing, a birth of a beautiful girl.
I assume that giving this child two names Charlotte Jessie, may have been a hint that she was to play a significant role in this play. even though she was over 100 miles away from Birmingham.
Charlotte always called Jessie, was different in many ways to her brothers and sisters, at school, she was loved by every child and teachers, she was bubbly kind and loving, from her first moment singing in the church choir, confirmed her as a angel. awaiting an harp it was during a trip to Wilton’s Music Hall that she was seen outside the stage door, awaiting autographs of her favourite acts, at the same time she was heard giving her friends a rendition of one of the popular songs.of the period.
All though her school days and when she became a young lady the second lead, in my family plot born in a very busy area Islington. Middlesex. father George Hume and her mother Jane (Laurence) Hume both were in there mid 30s when Charlotte Jessie was born.
The only thing I can add to the girls early life was that she was certanly a great singer, of music that we can only imagine from a look at the Music Hall.s and Youtube, that were every were in the mid 19th century, http://www.musicals101.com/news/earlyhall.jpg
Music Hall British theatrical entertainment was very popular, It involved a mixture of song, comedy, speciality acts and variety entertainment. similar to American vaudeville, f
What ever “Jessie” loved about the Musical Hall. continued through to the 1920s, period, and was the leading actors, Marie Lloyd, Dan Leno, Little Tich and George Leybourne, were her favourite’s and being only a short distance from the action, she and a few of her friends would sit outside the stage door collecting autographs, before singing there way home.
Even after her marriage to Arthur Butler she never lost the love of songs.
Being a seamstress would have been in a boring existence, as she grew older she resented her lost opportunity. for every rime the young girl had asked her father if she could go for a rehearsal. he would
loch her in her room,
George her father although a printer by trade had been a soldier, in his time, and an order was never to be challenged. so Jessie and her life on the boards, singing and dancing were to be only a dream.
On her 21st Birth day, she met and married Arthur Butler, he soon joined Jesse’s father in the printing trade,, moving up to the art of Lithography this I guess was a
more skillful area, so I can assume he was a skilled man.
At some time Jessie and Arther moved in with the Hume family, at 37a Felix Terrace Islington, Middlesex. that must have been a large house for in no time Jessie was creating a large family. her self,
In the first years of 1900, it appears that Jane jesse’s mother died.
From the records available in 1905 jess had 5 children
There appeared to be a trauma, of some sort, bad enough for Arthur to move to Birmingham, were there was a great deal of work. especially in the printing trade.
After a few months Jessie was invited to move with all her children, to Birmingham, were I can only assume her husband had gained a good position. and had made provisions for there arrival.
George must have been distraught to lose not only two breadwinners, but a loving daughter. and 5 grand children.
Only hear say in that Jessie took all her children, and arrived at New Street Station, only to endure a 5 hour wait until. she was picked up by a cousin who lived at 185 Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath and was given a one room flat. until Jessie could sort her predicament out.
It is now that we find Jessie living with her Husband in 101 Cooksey Road, Small Heath Birmingham, at no time did Jessie ever mention her husband, but in a relative short time Arthur had disappeared. perhaps in the war. ?
What was known is that every child found who arrived on that train from Islington found happiness in loving arrangements, and left Cooksey Road, until only Phillip. remained. trmsinrd.remained.http://u.jimdo.com/www300/o/s0031f87db135fdc9/img/icf5aee13aa18ff52/1345396795/std/the-bsa-armoury-road-photograph-by-phyllis-nicklin-1953-see-acknowledgements-keith-berry.jpg
After leaving school;. Phillip gained work in the City Centre Markets, and what with Jessie having great ability to turn any old cloth to a respectable dress or coat, she had built a very important livelihood.
It was during the 1920s when Philip woke one morning to a snow drift, covering the whole of the Cooksey residence.
Although it was 6.30 Phillip walked to the fresh vegetable market were he worked part time,and arrived in good time to help one other to clear the gate of snow, and there particular stall. ready for start of business.
When the Stall Owner who Philip worked for, saw how conscientious.the 15 year old was, he offered him work at Perry Bar Greyhound stadium, giving change to the winning clients.
In a very little time he had been taught to Tick Tak the ancient Bookmakers skill of passing the price changes from cheap ring to main ring, within a short period one of the most leading midland greyhound Bookmakers “Patrick” offered Phillip a important role as top tick tak for the firm betting at all three Greyhound tracks.
Born uniquely with a photographic memory, Phillip was soon in great demand working for others at Hall Green and Kings Heath. it was during the time he was making a great deal of money,
Meeting Edith Russell. who lived in Balsall Heath, at 9 back of 22 Vincent Parade, they got married in 1933 and purchased a semi detached home at 5 Loxley Avenue, Warstock. and Philip junior was born in 1934 followed by yours truly Donald in 1937.
I can only assume that Jessie must have pinched herself every morning, for I know that Edith, his wife did,
Imagine within 5 years, from meeting, Edith the family, that included Jessie, wanted for nothing. By 1938 the role that Philip held in the midland Bookmaking industry was certainly a senior one even though he was very young for the role, all bets taken and conducted by a tick tak were in its nature at Credit, take as an example at Cheltenham, there would have been 5 tick tak firms all with there own twist card, with every number of the runners, in a particular race, in a different code, this was to make it impossible for any layman, to get a great feel for the true market.the advantage being with the Bookmaker and his workmen,
In the two main rings at Cheltenham there would be a tattersalls and Silver Ring plus outside (Cheap Enclosure)
Every transaction would as I have explained have been conducted on a credit basis, with the firms, offering a fee for the trist card and a commission given to Philip,
At the time there would have been over 100 bookmakers in the cheap enclosures, 60 and more in Tattersalls and 30 on the rails,
Phillip would use his own card to indicate the bet between bookmakers. and when he arrived home late at night he would carry out the winning and loss accounting. confirmed and paid in the following monday.
To do this it required every Bookmaker in the land trusting Philip even though he was still only in his mid twenties.
In a very short time on the run up to WW2. he was as well known in Bookmaking terms as anyone.
His dress sense was immaculate, his wife Edith beautiful. a normal day in the Butler household in the period 1937 to the start of WW2 in 1939 would consist of Philip and Edith travelling to the senior meetings, were several friends all Bookmakers would carry out a mornings fishing, before commencement of racing.
Jessie would be at home running the family.
One of the meetings were they always visited as a family was Ludlow were the fishing in the river Why and Lugg, was first class, catching trout and grayling, as well as the odd salmon. this was certainly a dream existence. One day a Bookmaker called Ernest Fletcher who held several number one sight’s in the important silver ring. offered Phillip a partnership deal. after a great deal of thought, Phil agreed,
Keeping his greyhound work independant as well as his trading at the main festivals.
This was the role that Philip had created for every one wanted his participation, even though many of the independants, purchased his card. without trading to do so was an extra fee,
Fletcher offered Phillip a partnership deal at 50/50 without affecting the Top tick tak service he had created.
Meetings like Epsom, Chester Cheltenham and York were a gold mine but Phil had seen the eventuality of horseracing becoming void if his belief that a world war was imminent.
Offered a Job during the day at the Austin Motor company, within 12 months, after 1937 he was a foreman a money lender, illegal Bookmaker, and although racing except at a very few venue was to stop,
He was one of the most popular workers at the plant.
It was during the week ends, after the dogs when Phillip and his close friends would meet up with all the stars of stage (Hippodrome) people like Tommy Trinder, Arthur Askey. would be in Phil’s company, and became great friends. of many of the stars. time.Ahttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/87/Tommy_Trinder.jpg/180px-Tommy_Trinder.jpg
Any one inside would have noticed one fault in the young man’s persona, he was a massive drinker.
Every night after the dogs had finished, all of the racing gang would travel to the city centre pubs, for a massive drinking session.
Dad had purchased an Austin Rube, not a big car, but very few people had a vehicle at the time
Whist the parents were out racing, Nan Butler Jessie would take full charge of the home, getting us ready for the days shopping, were we would be dressed like little sailors, .which didn’t go down very well with some of the rougher elements, in Daisey Farm.
After the war finished Phillip Junior was now in his teens, and was a part of the Bookmaking team. for he had also become a proficient tick tack. and floorman.
It was during this period when disaster struck with the death of Ernest Fletcher George Cross and French equivalent. hilder, although it should have been the end of his lucrative partnership deal with the two Fletcher brothers, he was so well liked, by the senior Bookmakers in the midlands trade association, that the pitches were changed into Phillips name.
But still betting as Ernest Fletcher. at first it didn’t appear to be a great change, success continued,
Phil was now the Bookie, with Ernest Fletchers brother clerking and Phil Junior tick tacking.
Within 12 months, there had been a fundamental shift to the finances of the Firm.
Phil had no ability as a Bookmaker offering credit to many of the old Fletchers customers, were before Ernests death they had no such service. cash only.
In no time the firm was owed fortunes, in turn losing the cash and the customer,s was a disaster.
The War was now over and the lax regime that allowed Phil time off at the Austin when the big meetings took place, was over his contact at the work no longer in power. through mutual agreement.
Phil left the works. with over 100 staff enjoying a great party at the Licky End. pub.
By 1950 the drinking habit, that had once made Philip attractive to his many friends had become an hindrance. having lost the massive cash flow, that he had built up from 1933 to 1945, had disappeared leaving only several empty shoe boxes in there place. his memory that had made him arguably the greatest tick tak in the land, had now diminished, his credit rating under pressure.
Phillip junior was now taking a bigger role in the firm for had had gained a feel for the Book Making art,he was certainly heir apparent. hr had also taken on an Apprenticeship, as a Die Sinker. but what was to become of the firm, for flouting over our world was
a big dark cloud. and although it was 2 years away. 1951 was to be the catalyst for a serious disaster.
One that would turn the whole family on its head.
Chapter 2, “A Slithering Snake”