GRAHAM MARSHALL pizzicatoman

I was born at home in the back bedroom of 22, Courtenay Road, Perry Beeches, Birmingham 22c on November 10th 1938, unaware of the impending outbreak of a second world war or of the straitened financial circumstance of my parents. I think my mother and father would have preferred to remain as a unit with only my elder brother to care for. They had managed to put down a deposit and begin to pay off the mortgage on the newly built house in Courtenay Road. My arrival had caused them to have to think again about the future and, with my mother needing to devote herself to looking after two children under five years of age, continuing with the mortgage repayments was going to be impossible. So arrangements were made, probably by my mother, for suitable alternative rented accommodation to be entered into early in the new year of 1939.

We moved to 118, Tyndale Crescent, Great Barr, Birmingham 22a, which was to be the family home more than forty years - until, in fact, my mother moved into the flat in Reddish in the 1980s to be near us.

Looking back over my life, I have become increasingly aware of how fortunate and privileged I have been as the son of what would be called a semi-skilled factory worker father and an ambitious but thwarted mother. I was able to profit from a Grammar School and University education which cost them very little. It does not happen like that these days. My student grants were non-repayable except in terms of what I would contribute to the common good of society in my 'working' life.

I have to put 'working' in italics since I have hardly ever 'worked' - in the commonly accepted sense of that word. Being a clerk in holy orders meant that I was always in receipt of 'stipend' rather than 'wage' or 'salary.' A stipend is a living allowance granted to a priest/minister so that he, or she nowadays, does not have enter into 'gainful employment' but can be free to be the servant of those for whom their ministry is being exercised in a given situation. More about this later.

For the moment suffice it to say that I was raised in an ordinary working-class family, but in what I would now say were very pleasant and promising circumstances. The house on Tyndale Crescent was a modern semi-detached property with three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, large gardens back and front, situated on the very outer northern edge of the Birmingham conurbation, not in Birmingham itself but in the south Staffordshire Urban District of Aldridge.