Who is Sarah Strick, you may be wondering.
Well I believe that she’s the lady on the right.
On the left is her husband Jacca and the other lady is their Aunt Emma.
Randle Hurley has put together a lovely little collection of stories about them.
In the late 1940s they lived in Penzance, my hometown, in a small cottage at the top of Causewayhead.
There’s a picture of Causewayhead as they would have known it, painted by Stanhope Forbes, a little further down the page.
But I should tell you a little more about them as these are very much character stories. Sarah and Jacka are in their seventies. She’s a little cautious, a little careful. Not is a bad way, she just wants a nice home and to be thought of well. Jacka though is rather more lackadaisical. Aunt Emma is a gregarious old lady, and still very active. A fine family!
They are all utterly believable, and it was very strange to read about them walking streets, visiting places that I know very well. They let the Western National bus pass by to catch the cheaper blue bus to Newlyn and Mousehole. I did the same thing as a child some years later when I went to visit my cousin who lived between those two villages.
And I can imagine the Strick family passing my mother and father, both small children, one in Penzance and one in Newlyn, back then.
They are lovely stories. Anecdotes really, that they would have talked over and maybe laughed about with friends and neighbours.
- Aunt Emma feeding the birds, a nest on the roof and high jinks as Jacca tries to get it down.
- Excitement at the coming of the modern wonder that was the Cwop (or Co-op, if you’re on the other side of the Tamar) and the divi. But comic complications ensue when Sarah makes her claim.
- Jacca confined to bed and receiving conflicting advice from the doctor and the district nurse, until it is finally worked out that his tonic might be doing more harm than good.
- Aunt Emma volunteering to look after the new neighbours cats, and being told they must not get out. Of course they do, and then how do you get the right cats back in?
Eight tales altogether, and every one a joy to read.
The story telling is wonderful, and it’s proper Cornish. I can hear the local voices in my head, and I recognise the warm, dry Cornish wit.
There’s a little dialect, but that shouldn’t put you off. It’s terribly readable, and there’s a glossary at the back that explains the exact meaning of such important Cornish terms as “dreckly.” Which literally translates as “directly”, but actually means at some point in the future should the mood happen to strike. Well, Cornwall is that sort of place.
And this lovely book is Cornwall distilled. Highly recommended!