The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The ring and the clock

1915 - Back in England. Once May forced Walter to "make his intentions known" and the wedding date was set, Walter set about finding a proper ring for his fiancee. As often happens when the wearer of the ring and the buyer are in different locations at that time of purchase, problems can ensue:

I went to a jewelers in Grimsby with a comrade of mine to choose the ring according to a ring card which May had sent me. I bought the ring. I was granted four days leave. I went to London Earls Court, as there where May was staying with her sister and her husband Doc. The next afternoon, I was speaking to Violet, I was rather shy on these matters, and I was rather anxious to find out if the ring was suitable. Violet took the ring to May who was in another room, and to my horror, the ring was much too small. May came out, and we hurried out to go over to Richmond to buy another ring. May chose a nice one, and it was quite a relief. This obstacle had been removed.

All was not lost, however, with the too-small ring. A lovely keepsake came out of it, according to Walter:

The time came for me to return to Grimsby, and I took the ring which was too small back to the shop explaining that he had made a mistake with the ring card. He was full of apologies, and he asked would I like anything else in the shop in exchange for the ring. And my eyes rested on a grandfather clock or a hall clock, which could be hung upon a wall. I decided on that, and I brought it away. When I went to London next time, I took it and shewn it to May, and she got her mother to have it in her house until we needed it.

That clock, when I eventually settled down in Mortlake on my return from Khartoum in 1930 and later on when I was able to purchase a house in 1932 which was quite near to the school where I was employed as caretaker. It was then I hung that clock in our hall passage which gave the entrance a distinguishing appearance, and it stayed there until I was obliged to sell the house on the death of my dear wife in Roehampton Hospital aged 81 years. She died on her 81st birthday 1971. And that old clock passed into the hands of my granddaughter now living in Lewes [?], although I do not see her. So Mary my dear, that is the story of the ring and the clock.

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posted by MaryB @ 10:56 AM  


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