Live Eels and Grand Pianos - Kindle ebook by Andrew Bradford

Both a family memoir and a significant contribution to the social
history of the twentieth century, 'Live Eels and Grand Pianos' is a
true story of heroism and extraordinary courage in the face of
adversity. Andrew Bradford's well-researched text tells the tale of
Charlie and Kathy, the author's parents, who both caught Polio when
they were very young children in the early twentieth century and were
seriously disabled as a result.

When Kathy and Charlie married in 1945 and started a family in 1948
they were considered so unusual that they were the subject of a lot of
articles in the national newspapers. Most of these were sympathetic,
but one of them had unintended consequences. This was the reaction to
an article published in "The People" in 1950:

' The old man who sold the Evening News at the bottom of our street
read it, and not only verbally abused Charlie for bringing up a child
that would grow up crippled, but also spat at him.

Daniel M. Angel had a different reaction. Angel, a highly successful
British film producer (he produced 'Reach for the Sky', the British
Film of the Year in 1956); was himself paralysed by Polio. When he
read the article he offered to pay for my education at a public
school. A boarding school of course.

Kathy was furious at Angel's well-meaning intervention. She took it as
a personal criticism; he must be saying that she was not capable of
looking after her son. She was highly sensitive to any actual or
imagined accusation of that sort, and went out of her way not to ask
me to help around the house. She would do it all; she would never be
accused of having a child just so that he could be a carer or helper.'

Andrew's account details the ways in which they dealt with a society
that alternated between kindness towards their situation, and
hostility towards their difference. Andrew recounts how Charlie and
Kathy defied convention by managing to find work and raise a family,
whilst tirelessly campaigning for the rights of people with
disabilities. Written with humour and without sentimentality, the
novel includes over twenty black and white photographs of the author's
family taken between 1920 and 1980. It will appeal to all those with
an interest in social history, whilst preserving the spirit of the age
for younger generations.

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