Taken from Pat's work in progress, 'Weaned on a Pickle: The Autobiography of Patricia Enid Guppy', the first excerpt of which can be found here.
You may well wonder, having no doubt heard of my long history of involvement in the fine arts (and in the scarecrow design business), how I came to be so artistically talented and a woman of such good taste. Well, it is genetical. I am descended from none other than the beloved brother of Mr Benjamin Cobbler-Stowe Esq, a painter of great talent; and when I say painter, I am of course referring to those skilled craftsmen who hang one's wallpaper and decorate one's skirting boardials. The photograph above shows the exterior of his establishment in Wrexhampton. The woman standing outside the shop (though I do hate to use that word, as it was more of a boutique really) was my great-grandmother's sister, Murial-Anne Cobbler-Stowe (née Butt) and her young son, Freddie (short for Frederick Persimmeon Granforth VIII).
The advertisement below, taken from the Wrexhampton Advertiser, was placed in that highly reputable publication in the April of 1860. As you can see, my ancestor was a very talented fellow. He could turn his hand to almost anything, was a very respected member of the local community, was always available if anyone was in need of an extra man to make up a crowd (especially if it was positioned outside a brothel). He was also an avid attender of funerals with buffets laid on and once stood on the same railway platform as Mr Gladstone no less, who visited Wrexhampton in the June of 1887 in order to sample the local ladies' buns.
In addition to being a painter, and part-time provider of decorative bunting, Benjamin Cobbler-Stowe was a keen musician and vocalist, often exhibiting himself at public events for the enjoyment of his fellow man. According to the Wrexhampton Advertiser, which covered many of the events attended by Benjamin and his brothers, he was also adept at the illumination of candles, so was often on the guest list of any soirée held in a particularly dark place.
Yes, Benjamin was a man of many achievements; his redecoration of the church clock and polishing of its big hand was remarked upon continually for a period of more than seventeen years (and at one point was suspected of being the cause, on account of the heavy buffing having produced an overpowering sparkle which could lead to momentary blindness, of forcing Mr Knut and his buggy to drive into a ditch).
Next time: Benjamin Cobbler-Stowe's brush with the law!