I can’t remember if I ever told you about the Chappies who lived next to us. Chappies were there when I was born in 290 and were there when I left to get married. At least two of the Chappie’s were, that is, Big Chappie and Little Chappie. In my childish days there were three Chappies, the one with the moustache being Chappie Man. He drank out of a very special cup which helped, but not quite, to keep his whiskers out of his tea. He was the only adult male in the whole of our spinster and widow-ridden terrace. Somehow this distinguished association with such a celibate company seems to suit him – it was hard to conceive even in a child’s imagination his lusting after tender virginhood. He looked like a senior walrus and one could not imagine him in any occupation save grunting and wallowing in the Behring Sea, but was most probably, full of the social graces.
Chappies were always very kind to me. They were lonely people who did not have many visitors, mad or otherwise. They were used to my screechings and juvenile friendship. By their standards, I suppose my mother was a real go-out. Sometimes they would be baby-sitters for me – although in those days one just looked after, or minded, a small child.
It was always a great treat to be looked after by the Chappies. No matter how much food I had consumed at home I could always go their rock cakes and hop beer. After the goodies and whilst they were madly knitting booties and bonnets for sale at Farmer’s, I would be allowed to pound, with all stops out, on their old foot-bellowed organ. Chappies would occasionally drop a stitch but would forgive my ignorance of Bach, or Palestrina, and applaud my Stravinsky sounds even though they had not yet been written. I suppose it was this sort of mod dissonance, and sheer magnitude of noise which started me off on my first abstract nightmares which haunted me when I had finally been rugged up and settled down on their settee. Oh dear! Those crazy interlocking and ever-expanding circles! They engulfed and terrified me in their cosmic inhumanity. A commonplace enough vision of the world now, but real crook in Paddo in 1916.
In March 1906, Mary Ann Chapman nee Nottage (1838-1906), relict of Albert died at 292 Glenmore Road. Albert and Mary were the parents of Edgar, Florence and Mary. In the 1903-04 Electoral Roll, Edgar Nottage was at 226 Glenmore Road, Paddington. Spinsters, Florence and Mary were not recorded as they were ineligible to vote at that time. In the 1913 Electoral Roll, Edgar Nottage Chapman, clerk, 292 Glenmore Road and sisters, Florence Mary (1862-1944) and Minnie Emma (1873-1945) (home duties) were recorded at 292 Glenmore Road. Edgar died May 1920. In 1933, the year of Wep’s marriage, only Florence and Minnie Chapman were recorded at 292 Glenmore Road and again in 1936 but gone by 1937.