Today we start a magnificent series of recollections by Cecil Culver, one of the great cornerstones of the Wokingham community. Sadly, Cecil died in 2009 aged 99, but we are fortunate in being able to receive his memories of Wokingham in the twentieth century. Jim Bell provides us with the following introduction:
“Cecil and I became acquainted a few years ago, just after I retired, when I agreed to take his laundry, together with that of his friend Edna Goatley, to the local laundrette every second Thursday morning. This turned out to be one of the most profitable decisions I have ever made for it gave me access to a supply of valuable local historical information. When Cecil discovered that I was writing about a subject with which he was familiar he would ask me to visit him for a chat. His idea of a chat was him talking non stop while I frantically scribbled on a notepad. The hours would fly. His eloquence, phenomenal memory and appearance—the inevitable bow tie, green jacket, slacks with knife-edge crease and patent leather shoes—transported me into a Wokingham world of bygone days in which the pace was a shade slower, everyone knew one another and, “You had to mind your ps and qs”, as he would say.
The last time I saw Cecil was at about half past nine on the morning of Thursday, 12th November 2009, the day he left this mortal coil. He was his usual self—as bright as a cricket—to use one of his expressions. We discussed the weather, and as usual, exchanged a couple of jokes. As I walked to my car he called, “I have to go shopping but I’ll be back by twelve!” Soon after he died Edna told me that her husband Ken, local historian, had interviewed Cecil three times. Two had been recorded on audio tape and the third on video. After listening to them I decided that the information about Cecil and early 20th century Wokingham should be preserved and made available for posterity”.