|bc||Leonard Shields, famous Billy
Bunter artist in 'The Magnet', and much more!
Edgar Seymour Shields writes:
I remember my father as a kind man with an easygoing outlook except in certain circumstances, when he would shout his disagreement with something one had done and turn on the sarcasm to good effect. These circumstances were usually of no great importance except in his eyes.
He was a short man but had plenty of stamina for walking, when he used to lope along like a red indian. He was a tailor's nightmare. After the Great War, in which he served as an Ack Ack (a branch of the Navy then) he never wore anything else but a navy blue suit, black boots, flannel shirt with a "dicky", black tie and a grey trilby hat - a sort of civilian-navy outfit. This was his gear summer and winter. When it rained he wore an ancient raincoat, green with age, which my mother eventually threw away in a desperate bid to get him to buy a new one - which he did. He was also the first man to have a crew cut. This also stemmed from his serving days.
Apart from the family, work was his life and hobby. Monday, Wednesday and Friday he went to the city and the rest of the week he worked at home.
Father's studio was anywhere in the house or garden and the tools of his trade were a folding table, drawing board (supported on a paste pot), Indian ink, Chinese white, india rubber, pencils, pens, brushes, charcoal. etc. He worked with the family around him, conducting conversation with whoever was present while his pen produced the finished article. He earned a good living and wanted for very little.
He was not a strict disciplinarian but expected you to do the right thing so that in my early days I tried to do what he would have wished. He had that Yorkshire trait of being careful with money, but he was never a stingy man though it sometimes took my mother a bit of scheming to get him to shell out for a new lounge suite or some other large item of expenditure.
Another thing I remember is his habit of rolling his own cigarettes. "Pop down to Castlemans and get me an ounce of St. Julien and a packet of Zig Zag fag papers", he would say. These DIY cigs were the bane of my mothers life as he used to drop the ash all over the place - a lot of it went down the front of his jacket and, when no one was looking, he would sometimes knock the ash into his trouser turn-ups !
Holidays started with panic stations. Getting the luggage in the (train) guard's van and finding our seats used to have him flaked out, but once we arrived at Scarborough all was sweetness and light. He was a great one for walks and we would traipse for miles, which, I am sure, proved a great trial for my mother.
He had an impish sort of humour on occasions and was a dab hand at giving people nicknames. The grocer in the corner shop at Scarborough had a deformed finger and Dad called him "Candle fingers". Another man at Putney who always looked henpecked and carried a large basket was known as the "Little Shopping Man".
Throughout my post school life I came to realise he was a man of sterling worth, straight as a die and with not a trace of deviousness. Some of his ideas were naturally not in tune with my generation which saw tremendous changes in the world. But I never heard him criticise anyone.
He encouraged me in my music and bought me my first saxophone and a piece of music to go with it called 'Saxophobia'. He also had a pianola role of this and we used to have a jam session now and again. He eventually became quite a fan of Louis Armstrong - quite a feat for someone brought up in the Victorian era. He had a fine academic record. In one exam he came top of the whole of Yorkshire; he won a scholarship to Sheffield University where he took his B.Sc.
When struck down by Osteoarthritis and Hodgkin's Disease at the end of his life, he never complained and I shall always remember him with love and affection. One of his sayings was "I don't mind what you do as long as you're happy" and he did much to make our family life just that. #
Paul adds: He was also a wonderful watercolour artist; a facet of his talents that has never been really recognised.
Dr Nandu KS
With regard to the web page, it would be nice to have some biographical details such as his dates of birth and death, and any other info (eg place of birth? any other children? wife etc). I would love to know what he actually thought about the stories.
I recently found a Leonard Shields picture, which I
believe to be a print, behind another picture in a frame which was among
the possessions of our 97 year old neighbour, who has recently died. The
picture is entitled The First Grandchild – signed Leonard Shields – 13.
It features an old couple admiring a new baby. I would be happy to pass
this on to Leonard’s family if they would like to have it.