Branches Swindon Stories & Memories
BEVIS - A Jolly Good Read

I mentioned in Dragonfly 111 in the article on Coate Water a man called Richard Jefferies and after a number of enquiries to me about this item I felt some of you might like to know a little more about his book BEVIS

Richard was born at Coat Farm house which backed onto the Wilts & Berks Canal Reservoir in 1866, He was a prolific writer and was a reporter for the North Wilts Herald for a time but died very young at the age of 39. Bevis is a book based on two boy's growing up and having Coate Water as their playground.
This very simple yet deeply moving story choreographs their movements from boyhood to Adulthood in just one Summer.

A prolific reader would normally get through a chapter in about fifteen minutes but with this book it can take you up to an hour because each time you read a line or two you stop and remember something similar happening to you at that age.I did not even get through the first page before reminiscing with myself about a hammer and Dads old shoe last. I got a clout for that one from Mum first, then Dad when he got home and then had to wear my shoes with holes in them where the nails had gone through. Your first swimming lesson, the fight you had at school, rowing a boat on your own, sleeping out under the stars, Firing your first gun at a live target, drinking Dandelion and Burdock and eating Jam sandwiches in the long grass.All of these I did and many more that I would not like to tell you about.

This book is not about two boy's, it's about all of us and what we wish to remember from our past, the long hot summers, walking in the rain, building a den in the hedgerow, our first kiss. Life was so much simpler then and everything was possible, Boyhood dreams became realities and lessons on the meaning of life were learnt the hard way. There is so much pathos and yet so much elation in each chapter that you will find it hard to put the book down He hits his dog when it is disobedient and kills a wild duck to eat which today we would find uncomfortable but in those days these were valuable habits to acquire if you were to make it as a man.

They fight with other lads with real bows and arrows and swords made from wood but then I start to remember that I owned a 22 pellet gun and often used it. We would sit for hours in a barn shooting the Crows and Starlings that ate the cattle and pig feed.

Get this book out of the library and see if you agree with me and nowadays some of the most eminent minds in the World. This book is not just for people that know Coate Water, in fact the book is a best seller in China and the reason is easy to see.

First published in 1882 it is still as relevant today over 125 years later as when it was written.

Roy Cartwright