Transcript: Brian's Character Podcast

Brian's Character podcast

Brian Hatton’s character through his letters

Brian Hatton – His character as shown through his letters this is by Jackie St George, the researcher.

Brian Hatton wrote home two to three times a week whenever he was away from home, from the age of ten when he went away to school in Swansea.  He was sent away for the good of his health and the good sea air.  He lived with Dr and Mrs Lancaster who remained his friends for the rest of his life.  This was in 1897,  when he first went away, it was the year of the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  He continued to write home regularly until his death in Egypt in 1916.

He was a very good correspondent, he loved to laugh and he loved a joke.  His letters are full of descriptions and tiny drawings of people falling into puddles, hats blown along the beach, umbrellas blown inside out and people falling over small dogs.   He had a great sense of the ridiculous but his was not an unkind laughter – he would be the first to run after the runaway hat or umbrella and to help Mrs Lancaster, (for it was usually her or her hat), out of the puddle.  He was equally quick to laugh at himself and sent many accounts and caricatures of himself falling off ponies and coming off the worst in a scrap with a bigger boy in the playground.  

He was affectionate and cheerful and his letters remained so until the end when he wrote of life in the trenches in 1915, in Egypt.  He wrote of poor food, lack of boots and equipment, of boredom and of how much he missed Biddy, his wife, and their baby Mary.  But overall this there was Brian’s optimism.  This was the young man who wrote in 1916, to his father – ‘mine is a very fast pony, no German or Turk will ever catch me.’  He wanted only to return to his family and Hereford, ‘with a sound right hand and eyesight.’ 

My favourite story about Brian is his account of Spring, the lurcher.  There is a very good drawing of Spring in the collection, dated 1905.  In March of that year, Brian wrote to his mother, ‘yesterday afternoon I bought a mongrel a rough haired whippet for ten shillings.  The fellow wouldn’t take less although I tried to bargain for 7/6.  I believe he is a very sporting brute and a nice good tempered animal and under 12 months.  I suppose I shall want a license now!  I am going to keep him in a barrel in Mrs Farr’s garden and she’ll look after him.’  It turned out that ‘the fellow who wouldn’t take less than ten shillings,’ did not own the dog and his owner turned up to claim him.  However, Brian, who was quite robust and outspoken, called the local policeman to settle the dispute, and it was eventually settled in Brian’s favour.

I think if Brian had been my brother,  I would have liked him very much.

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