Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

His Life Afloat and Ashore: Conclusions (i)

Tho' much is taken, much abides.

In spite of financial "bed rock" being announced on several occasions, Dum had many nice possessions which survived the lure of the auction rooms. Many of these things have since been dispersed; firstly at the death of my grandmother when quite a few of their possessions passed to Elsie's daughter Doris; and secondly at the death of my parents when the exigencies of accommodating what the various immediate family members wanted or could take still left a lot of things to be disposed of, among them some of Dum's things including the humidor mentioned below, and a handsome, cut glass partner's ink-well with a silver top. However, among other things I still have a fine carriage clock of theirs, a chandelier and a ships chronometer apart from the Journals, photographs, diaries etc that form the basis of what is on this website. I also have a well-worn silver tobacco tin with his initials and the date 6.2.1914 engraved on the lid, but what that date commemorated I do not know. It was neither his birthday nor wedding; he died on 6th February - but not for another forty-one years!

Sadly my memories of Dum are few; he died when I was about seven. It goes without saying that I asked him none of the questions that I would dearly love to ask now. Among my clearest memories of him are his pacing up and down the lawn at the back of our house at Dorney, ‘Longwaters’, on the Thames near Windsor where Dum and ‘Granny Links’ came to live with my parents after moving from Wallasey.

Longwaters had a big garden going down to the Thames - oh so distantly connected to the "deep water" for which Dum yearned. There were a number of large trees from one of which Dick wanted to hang a swing. Before doing so he was either unsure what knot to use or had forgotten how it should be tied, because I clearly remember Dum giving a quick demonstration of a suitable knot tied over the corner of the workroom door. This workroom contained Dum's tools and workbench. He was an inveterate d.i.yer. I still have his tool chest which I suspect he made himself. Here he talks of his wood work in a letter to "My dear Peg and Dicko" dated 29 December 1948 - when he had been better employed enquiring after my well being, as the latest addition to the crew; but in all his jottings I get not a mention. Tchah! Having been so profligate with commas in the past he has none left for the present. The egg boxes referred to were wooden crates, not the flimsy cardboard affairs we now refer to.

I spend most of my time trying to make things out of old junk egg boxes and such like and usually if some thing is going to be made two or three other things have firstly to be knocked to smithereens to get the wood out of them. Lots of the bits of wood have gone through this process several times and I have got to know lots of these pieces so well that I give them a burrah salaam as they pass from a table may be to a wardrobe and as they are trimmed up a bit and are being screwed into a new field of activity I always wonder if this is the last of them for you see I am now running quickly into the allotted span of three score and ten and sooner or later, and very possibly sooner than later the good tools will have to be laid aside.

Apart from the tool chest I don't have anything he made but remember things he did make as being ‘utilitarian’ rather than exemples of the Arts and Crafts movement. All his nails, screws and other hardware were neatly stored in screw-top glass jars or tins whose previous contents had gone up in smoke - literally. He was an enthusiastic pipe smoker, having previously been a cigarette smoker. However, during WWII he had to "dig out his old pipe" on account of the prohibitive cost and scarcity of cigarettes. What a blow this tobacco tax is really, I have never before heard of such a knock out imposition. Three Tuns was his preferred brand. Until quite recently we had his tobacco humidor - an attractive screw-top Delft affair.

He seems to have been popular and made a number of lifelong friends with whom he remained in touch and visited, and recall that Evelyn, as well as describing him as handsome, said he was "a nice person". I have an old address book of his which is full to bursting. One passing remark in a letter dated 9 July 1947 from Captain Bill Coombs, author of a book mentioned below and whom Dum had got to know in his Calcutta days, gives a glimmer as to how his contemporaries thought of him. Put out of your mind, my dear Link, any idea that you are forgotten. I often meet people who knew you in India and they all make friendly inquiries and remember the smiling philosopher. This certainly chimes with my recollection of him as affable and pleasant. There was nothing of the dour Scot or curmudgeonly old salt about him that I recall.

❮ Back © 2018 Duncan Linklater Next ❯