30 NOVEMBER 2014


· you don’t have to read all of it if you don’t want to – if you want, you can just jump to the saucy bits

· there aren’t any saucy bits at the moment!


My Father’s wives were always dying, so he’d get married again, presumably because he needed a mother for his children – being in the services until the end of WW2  didn’t help – then that wife would die, so the cycle would start all over again – he’d get married again, have more children …. – he was married a total of 3 times, and had a total of 5 children, plus 2 step-daughters that his various wives brought with them – I was the product of the 3rd marriage – they had me, and only me - they must have thrown away the instruction booklet after I arrived, or perhaps 1 of the girls threw it down the toilet!

I heard from my Auntie Monica, not so many years ago, that my Parents met through a matrimonial agency – unfortunately, I’d never bothered to ask how they met, and of course, they’d never bothered to tell us – why should they? – and anyway, ours wasn’t a “talking” family

My father had ….   (to be continued)



age at that year’s birthday




born 25 November, 13 xxx small front bedroom – can’t remember much else



can’t remember much about these years



I can remember being three, as on one accession I was saying to myself “tthhrree, tthhrree”



can’t remember much about these years either, although I must have started infants’ school in September 1950 or 1951- Cottenham Park Infants' School, Raynes Park, Surrey – hated it!



I can remember the King dying, although xxxx






moved to 16 Boleyn Drive, West Molesey, Surrey

started at junior xxx












went to Tiffin xxx

canal trip?















Greece, Lindau






left school, Merano, WLC



summer: did a shoert training course in Reims, France, visited Paris, then worked 1 month at a French Colonie de Vacances (childrens’ holiday camp) at Les Gets, Haute-Savoie, France



left WLC, Liverpool, Europe?, Hamburg

SUMMER: we gathered at the parish priest, Père Paul Corand’s home at Hurigny, near Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire, France, then worked 1 month at a French Colonie de Vacances at St Bonnet des Jeux, Saône-et-Loire, France

AFTERWARDS I remember hitchhiking through Europe, and finally made my way to Flensburg xxxxxx



● WINTER I must have had to go back to England, perhaps to get a visa to stay in Germany, and made a short visit to WLC xxx disappointment xxx

● SUMMER I left Hamburg, having bought an old VW van to move all my things, and drove, I don’t remember whether directly, to Hurigny again, then worked 1 month at a the Colonie de Vacances at St Bonnet des Jeux

● afterwards I went on a tour of Northern Italy with 3 colleagues from the camp, then went back to Hurigny and left the van there and went to

● I remember being in Merano, Italy, at the Hotel Europa, when news of Alexander Dubček downfall in Prague in late August arrived, so perhaps I went on anther tour on my own

● then (hitchhiked?) back to GB for what I thought would be a short visit

● September: in GB for the Great West Molesey Flood

● AUTUMN: back to Hurigny, where I’d left the van

● as there wasn’t any work going in that area, I drove to Geneva, where another colleague from the camp, Greg, was going to University – somehow I got a job as a taxi driver in Sierre, Valais – Greg had introduced me to a friend of his, Marie Hélène Tavelli, whose family owned a wine business in Sierre, and I met the family – the eldest son’s wife, Pamela, was American, and we became friends – I often went their for meals during the yeraValais, Switzerland



Switerland, flew to England?




Dad died

started Plasteco















left Plasteco, started SIC, BSC

Mum came



I left/escaped from school spring 1965, spent spring-summer 1965 abroad, went to college in London September 1965, was expelled from England July 1967 ….


when my parents got married, they both had a daughter either side of 10 (which is probably why they got married in the first place) (it was hate at first sight when the 2 girls first met! - but they're the best of friends now), then they had me (and only me - they must have thrown away the instruction booklet after I arrived, or perhaps 1 of the girls threw it down the toilet!) - so I was a semi-only child, with 2 older Pretty Ugly Sisters, who beat me mercilessly, shut me in the coal/wine cellar, shut me in the servants' bathroom on the 4th floor of our home (Durham Castle, yes, THAT Durham Castle), denied me food for the first 10 years of my life, shut me in the toilet of the Keeper's Lodge, starved me (I had to fight with the cat over the leftovers!), shut me in the North Tower of our home, until my hair grew so long that I had to use it to climb down from out of the window, beat me mercilessly (again), sold me to the milkman, then resold me to the postman, then to the insurance man, when my Mother made me a special gin-and-chocolate Birthday Cake for my 1st birthday, ate it all between them, just to name a few things


I have a twin (half-)brother and sister, now 88, whose mother died when they were young, so they were brought up by their Grandparents, as my Father was in the services for most of his life - the brother is very bitter - "I never knew my father, I never got [inherited] anything from my father" - whereas the sister isn't at all, she's a jolly soul - then I've got ANOTHER (half-)sister, one of the 2 daughters either side of 10 that my Father contributed to our family setup, who hasn't got a good word for my Mother / her stepmother (especially because she didn't get anything from the Gay estate, not being my Mother's daughter), whereas my Mother was a gentle soul, probably like her sisters


1946 born in West Wimbledon, then Surrey

1954 family moved to West Molesey, Surrey, near Hampton Court

1958-65 grammar school, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


I studied languages at college in London 1965-7, then decided to "do" Germany and Switzerland, and German and French - I then decided to "do" Italy and Italian ...... I've been here 40 years, 20 years out here in the country


I didn't originally intend to "emigrate", although I must have planned to stay away some time, as I took my record player and all my records with me - I just never went back to England


I suppose that, having "done" 3 countries in 3 years, I was getting tired of moving around - after all, I was getting on in years you know, I was 22, almost 23! - and I probably needed somewhere to hang up my dressing gown, so I just stayed - an eminent expert would probably come up with a dozen better reasons for my decision, but I'm afraid you'll have to do with this one!


I worked as an English teacher for a year in Germany (hated it!) - in those days, a young English speaking person arriving in a country could immediately find a job as an English teacher, even without any experience of teaching - in Switzerland I worked as a taxi driver in a mountain resort (hated it, especially the snow!) - then I worked again as an English teacher for a year in Italy (hated it!) - apart from anything, I'm not cut out as a teacher, I haven't got the patience - and I used to go to sleep in MY OWN lessons!


at the end of 1 year, I could speak Italian reasonably well (which is more than could be said of my poor students!), so I got a REAL job in a firm, as interpreter/translator (hated it! translating peoples' corny jokes, silly letters!)


I gradually moved on, via the Italian office of the British Shoe Corporation (Saxone, Lilly & Skinner, Dolcis, etc) (hated it!), looking after their shoe and handbag orders in Italy, to business on my own, initially in handbags, but later on importing various things (amongst others, Russell Hobbs kettles)


then at the beginning of 2008, age 61, I had a very slight stroke (so slight that I didn't even know what it was, and carried on almost as usual for a few days), and spent 3 months "inside" hospital and rehab centre, so as I'd paid sufficient pension contributions, I took early retirement - this is just as well, as business was gradually going downhill, and the impending financial crisis would have killed it off anyway


at the beginning of 2010, I slipped on the snow and broke a leg, another 3 months "inside" hospital and rehab centre (the same rehab centre)


at the beginning of 2011, I just fell over and broke the other leg, another 3 months "inside" hospital and rehab centre (the same rehab centre again, they're getting tired of seeing me!)


but I get around OK (won't be dancing onstage at the London Palladium, though) - I live here in a small paradise in the hills, with about 20 cats and 2 dogs, who keep me busy, not to mention my site, and replying to my fan mail, answering their endless questions......


that's the trouble with being famous, they're always naming things after you - look at the name Durham, since they've started naming counties and everything else after us, it's caused no end of trouble - you look up, say, our ancestor Jacob Durham the Great, and 99% of the results are for a William Jacob who was hanged at Durham goal in 1714!

funny story, at least I think it's funny: when my parents married, they both had a daughter from previous marriages, aged about 11 and 9 respectively, and when the 2 daughters first met, it was hate at first sight! they were staying in Gravesend (where the Durhams of Gravesend come from, funnily enough), and one day, the elder one took the younger one on the ferry over to Tilbury (in Essex, where the Durhams of Essex come from, funnily enough - apparently the Durhams of Gravesend and the Durhams of Essex have been firing at each other over the Thames estuary for the last 100 years, something to do with an inheritance) - and left her there! came home alone, and my parents had to go and frantically fetch the younger one back! well, I think it's hilarious, although it probably didn't go down too well in 1946!


some time ago I pointed out that my Grandfather Durham has over 160 descendants, rather more than most people’s Grandfathers - now thanks to the new BMD on Ancestry, I've also done his his brother, Walter James Durham's, descent, in Poole, Dorset, and he's also approaching the 100 mark (I know I'm only "cousin collecting"!) - the bad news is that, although I've found his only surviving son's wife, Rose Thomas, the only Durham births / Mother = Thomas, are in Wales, so they could easily be of a Welsh Durham who married a Welsh Thomas, unless of course my man moved from Poole to Wales to become a coal miner! So it looks like the Poole branch of the Most Ancient and Noble Family of Durham is no longer! The good news is that (a) his sisters dutifully married, mostly in Poole to be helpful, and (b) dutifully had dozens of children, mostly in Poole to be helpful, who (c) who dutifully married, mostly in in Poole to be helpful, and so on - in fact, an ideal situation - I don't think I've ever seen so many members of the same family still living in one area


This compares with my Grandmother, Annie Wigley's, family, of Kent - her cousin Horace(!) had approximately 19 children (AND he didn't get round to marrying their mother until AFTER they'd all been born - how forgetful can you get!) well at least he tried - but only seems to have left a handful of Wigley descendants in Kent, so the feared Wigley infestation of Kent hasn't taken place - admittedly, it's a bit harder tracing the descent of, say, "John A. Wigley" in Kent


On the other hand, some of the Wigleys moved to Scotland, and some of them escaped to the USA - of those that didn't, some made it across the border to (County) Durham, and have so overrun the county that there are now officially more Wigleys in Durham than Durhams - they'll soon be changing its name to County Wigley!


In the old days, the Queen used to send a warship to fetch me, but since Prince Albert died, she seems to have forgotten; Winston used to have me collected at Dover, Maggie sent a car to collect me at Northolt airfield, Tony used to send me a buspass, but nowadays I'm lucky if they let me into the country - I have to swim over by night! it's that  (false) accusation of setting the headmaster's car on fire when I was at infant school that's still following me!


apart from that, I take in Canadians, Kiwis and Polkas*

·        CAts with NAsty DIseases, Kats With Bits Missing, Poor Old Lady Kats


I don't even put myself (explicitly) online, I just put a small 20 page note "JSDurham had a son, living, born somewhere between 1946 and 1948, the Wonder of West Molesey, Heir to the Lasbury Millions, Successor to Sabina, Claimant as Head of the Real Lasburys, author of the bestsellers The Lasburys of Loch Lomond, The Parkers of Purley, The Rise and Fall of the Riflehall Family, The Saga of the Smiffs of South Lambeth, claimant to the Duchies of Durham-Herts-Lambeth-Gravesend and Durham-Herts-Lambeth-Essex, expelled from Cottenham Park Infants' School, expelled from Sunday school, expelled from Rivermead Junior School, expelled form Tiffin Grammar School, expelled from West London College, expelled from the majority of hospitals in N. Italy, expelled from the Lunatic Asylum, etc"


following a cousin's suggestion a couple of years ago, after I had a stroke (and now a broken leg! what next?) (and now another broken leg!), that I safeguard all my research, I've started sorting it all out on my computer


now that the site is in place, the bulk of the information is there, including photos, but the databases, full tables (including living people) and individual documents (birth/marriage/death certificates, census pages) are not, so I'm starting to send out (by post, its +- 1 GB!) a copy of everything, hopefully once a year, "just in case", with the enclosed note - I first sent out the first CDs summer 2010


would you like to be put on the mailing list and/or have you any suggestions to make? they would be welcome


if so, could you send a postal address please


I used to do royal families, etc, so I worked out that, in our family, my eldest cousin, as eldest son of the eldest son, etc, would be Duke of Durham, at least of Durham-Gravesend (I'm only 3rd in line!), but we have a problem - his son, the next Duke, had his name changed by his mother after they divorced, and is now xxx GOULDIE .- you can't have a Gouldie Duke of Durham, so I'm wondering, as my brother hasn't got any children, if I bide my time, whether I can "arrange" to be the next Duke of Durham!


it's just occurred to me:

Frederick Evan Durham, Edgar's father, and founder of the Durhams of Essex, had 4 sons

LAWRENCE FREDERICK - had 1 daughter, who had a son who lives in Christchurch NZ, of all places, so right now they're alright, but up to their necks in earthquakes


EDGAR SYDNEY - just 1 daughter and 1 son, and he presumably hasn't (yet)/won't have any children, although we mustn't take things for granted!

WALTER HERBERT - as far as I know, just 1 daughter (since proved as innaccurate)

HAROLD GEORGE - just 3 daughters, although they have a million descendants in Essex


so it looks as though the Most Ancient and Noble Family of Durham of Essex will soon be going into administration and calling in the receivers - so if I bide my time a little bit longer, could I can "arrange" to be the next Duke of Durham-Essex too?


admittedly, it means shooting at MYSELF across the Thames estuary, but I'm sure some solution could be found!


that's assuming you people don't claim to be Edgar's rightful heirs, and try and rename the whole show Durham-Essex-Lidgard!


and to think they only named County Durham after us 100 years ago - at this rate, they'll soon be renaming it County Patel or County Mohammed!


actually it's a nuisance having a county named after you - you search for "JACOB DURHAM"  (one of our more colourful ancestors), although you get results for "CHARLES JACOB DURHAM", his son, too (another colourful ancestor), but you also find, for example, a record about a man called Fred Jacob who was hanged in County Durham in 1766 (no relation!) - sometimes it's a curse having a county AND a city named after you! don't you let them rename some county to County xxxx!


of course, it has finally been proved that my Durhams didn't really come from County Durham at all - they took their name from Durham Road, London SW20 [but where did Durham Road get its name from?], round the corner from where I was born! - I was born in Pendarves Road, but Leslie John Pendarves Road didn't sound right - down one end of Pendarves Road was High Street, down the other end Durham Road - so Durham it was


actually, my parents wanted to call me after one of our ancestors – I was going to be Leslie William the Conqueror Durham!


yes, they say I was a beeeeaaauutiful little boy - well, we lived near Wimbledon, and there was that time we were up on Wimbledon Common with my Father's car - I was about 3 or 4 - and I let the handbrake off and demolished half of Wimbledon village down below - they say about 3 million people were killed! - then -  we also lived on a hill - I climbed into one of those electrical vehicles they used to give milkmen - I was about 3 or 4 -and I let the handbrake off and demolished Raynes Park station - they say about 3 million people were killed! then there was that "little brush with the law" http://digilander.libero.it/WIGLEY_FAMILY/PHOTOS-WLC-4-rag.htm - when I was at college, the nearest we got to drugs was when someone suggested you could get high on fried banana skins!

● GPS - now when I was a boy, we already had something like this - my parents attached a 3 tonne (or was it 3 ton?) block of concrete to my pushchair, with a candle on top, and they never failed once to find me - admittedly, when the wind blew the candle out at night, they did take a few minutes longer to find me, or if my sisters had hidden me in the shed down the bottom of the garden - it even worked under water - as part of a science project they were doing at school, my sisters put me on the bottom of the River Mole (which runs through West Molesey, you be interested to know) - admittedly, they didn't find me till 3 days later, when one of my feet floated to the surface and a man fishing caught it!