Memoirs of an Octogenarian : In the beginning.

Grandad Beall

Edmund Beall with Grandson David Addison, c1938

Mum & Dad wedding

Frank and Constance Addison – David’s parents.

The Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ has provided me with time to reflect on where I am and what are my priorities. To put it another way – an opportunity to be selfish!  Apart from time to concentrate on my academic research – reflected in my Blogs on the Northwick Collection and my life-long enthusiasm for sharing thoughts on paintings in my chats on paintings blogs – it has also presented an opportunity to reflect on eighty years of living in a changing world and to share these thoughts and comments within this new series of blogs – ‘Memoirs of an Octogenarian’.

Now having time to trawl through my countless written notes and text files, plus floods of newspaper cuttings, the long term aim is becoming clearer.  Starting out, years ago, on producing memoirs for my ever-increasing family has broadened into an awareness, often produced from frustration, of the ignorance of contemporary society – a constant re-inventing of the wheel and ignorance of the past. Here I should point out that I have never been a slave of the past – we do need constantly to move on, but moving  forward should not be by ignoring the past and, importantly, learning from that past.

These ‘Memoirs’ are not primarily a biography – but a collection, of essays on subjects which have engaged my attention from time to time as I navigated this ever-changing world. Subjects often prompted by younger generations – including grandchildren, colleagues, and students but also involvement in a variety of organisations, events, and places.  In other words – a collection of ramblings!!

As a starter – it is only fairly recently that have I begun to be aware of what an individual owes to his or her parents – and, indeed, a lack of both awareness and understanding of those formative figures in one’s life. For instance – I now recognise that both my parents grew up in the world of the First World War and its aftermath and that I grew up in the world of the Second World War and its aftermath; and that my father’s life combining the academic with pastoral, social, and educational concerns has been echoed in my own life. Unfortunately my father died before I had really got going on my career – I now realise that I would have liked to discuss such matters with him.


David Addison : student : Newcastle (Durham University): c1956.

The above was in lodgings with two other Fine Art students in our first term – my work is on the right. The fencing sword was not mine!!!  Note also the beard – I stopped shaving as soon as I got to University. By the Christmas vacation that beard had grown into something to be proud of – by me, but not by my parents, my sister, or back in the streets and buses of my home-town (Ipswich). I was now a rebel – a dubious character!!                                 Enough for now – my blogs under ‘Memoirs’ will be discussing my reflections, and some opinions, on what might be considered trivial matters – toys, toilets, telephones, typewriters, etc.

  David Addison. 


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