Bill Cox Memorial
A.R.I.S. – Animal Rights In Spiritualism
Those of you who have read our ‘What the Guides Say” series of leaflets may remember the quotes from “From Earth to Eternity” by Brother Joseph,
spirit guide of our dear, late Bill Cox.
This book is now out of print and with Bill’s passing, it may be presumed that the guide’s mission is fulfilled in
that capacity. It is hoped, however, that through A.R.I.S. , his words will continue to sow seeds of compassion within the hearts of those who
are open to it.
That said, It feels most appropriate, that in this year’s letter, we honour the guide’s humble medium, not only as a channel, but as the
wonderfully unique individual he was and will still be.
Beryl, Bill’s wife, herself an impassioned campaigner on behalf of animals, sent us his captivating story:
William Francis Cox. 28/08/1923 – 16/11/2008.
Once upon a time there was a little boy who had been ill as a baby and could see only light and dark shapes. He was an only child as his mother had
been carrying twin boys when she saw her father hang himself, with consequent shock and loss of the twin boys.When he was only five, his
mother was obliged to send him to a boarding school for blind and partially-sighted children, many miles away. It was a harrowing time for him at first. He
remembered, in particular, when he had difficulties with his braces and a girl laughed at him. Things were still a bit Dickensian. In fact, they
were old-fashioned in a number of ways.
The lady who supervised the childrens’
weekly bath would use the same water for FOUR pupils. Needless to say, they were not allowed to speak to the girls out of school, which, of course, only
encouraged surreptitious friendships.
He turned out to be very clever at school, winning a silver braille watch for history and learning to read braille with his fingers as quickly as many
sighted persons could read print. The boys at school who were very good at electronics, made themselves little crystal radios with aerials attached to the iron
bedstead. Not that they were taught electronics, or chemistry, physics, algebra or geometry but most pupils became accomplished musicians,
both in choral singing and playing the piano or huge church organ.
Later on, Bill passed three piano exams in one year, Grade V Higher, Grade V1 intermediate
and Grade V11. That was in the space of one year, towards getting the ARCM (Associate of the Royal College of Music.) He wanted to earn
his living as a piano tuner but the local authority would not pay. They said there would not be a demand for such a person – this in West Ham, an area of
thousands of people, where singing and dancing were taught in schools and many people had pianos. So they refused to let him go to The College at Worcester.
His subsequent accomplishments have proved the experts wrong, as usual.
So he had to become a brushmaker. Sighted people in authority then were no better to those less fortunate than themselves than some are now.
This brushmaking trade consisted of dipping tufts of brushes and brooms into boiling hot pitch – and he stuck it for six years.At this time it
was during the war and he and his family were bombed out of their houses twice, so they moved a bit further down the road, next door to a big Baptist church.
a Marvellous centre for young people.
Bill soon made his mark at the Music Club and became a bass singer in one of the choirs. He had an extensive knowledge
of orchestral music – no doubt added to during many, many hours spent alone
listening to records and the radio.His mother went out to work in the evenings. He has often told me that one of the reasons he
now loves Christmas with all our family round him is that his memories of the lonely Christmases were not happy.
Anyway, one year he went on a holiday which had been arranged by the church to Angmering in Sussex. There he heard Handel’s Largo being played, so
he found his way over to the piano to find out who was playing. It was a young girl and he lost no time in chatting her up and asking her out
to the prominade concerts. So we went to loads of concerts, fairs, sang in choirs and, in general, had a jolly good time, the upshot being that
we were married two years later. There were over three hundred present and ‘In Heavenly Love Abiding’ was one of the hymns.
We went to
St. Andrews in Scotland for our honeymoon.
It wasn’t long before Bill decided that he could do more than put bristles in brushes, so applied for training as a switchboard operator.
This was granted. Even then he was showing signs of being a fighter. They
tried to prevent him going home at weekends. Said it had never been done before. Said he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the training, what with the
long journey, etc. He disproved all that by completing the course successfully in two months instead of three! He said he felt better for
going home weekends. I certainly did!
So he worked for the Royal
Mail Shipping Line and two Employment Exchanges.
By that time, we had three little boys and needed a proper house, so we moved to Norwich. While there, he decided to train as a Welfare Officer for
blind people, so he stayed in London with his parents. Once more the experts were proved wrong. They said he might just about pass!!!
He got several distinctions and credits in the subjects he took. He was eighteen
years as a Welfare Officer for the Blind and we had our fourth son in Lincoln.
Bill continued working, although frequently in pain with glaucoma. He had lost the ability to be aware of light due to *Moorfields treatment in 1952.
Blind people were entitled to a qualified Welfare Officer, one who could teach them Braille, etc., but, due to the fact that , if you don’t specialise
in this work , you get more money, few people trained. Bill wanted promotion, but with the arrogance of some sighted people towards disabled people, was told
“ Why can’t you be satisfied with what you are?” So often,
people think that disabled people should be pleased with what they are given, whether they want it or not.
After much planning, he formed The National Tape Magazine for the Blind, on cassette, in 1976 and was
again told by the ‘experts’ that ‘it won’t last six months’. There were some difficulties, of course, not least the soundproof studio needed because
of the aircraft from Coningsby. So our son, Geoffrey, and a friend built a soundproof studio. Local villagers were marvellous, organising and attending
two fairs. We’ve got photos of Princess Anne at our little cottage in
Moorhouses, twelve miles from Boston.
I have been asked, in the nicest possible way, what it was like to live with a blind person. I would say: “Don’t leave chairs out from the table and
don’t leave doors half open. Don’t let your trees and hedges overhang the pavement and don’t park on the pavement. Do turn the light off after
a visit if no-one else is in the room. And, by the way, for the younger people, revving up motor bikes, especially near crossings, makes it
difficult, also music blaring out from cars. Don’t take it for granted things can’t be done. There are blind gardeners, chess players, pianists, organists,
piano tuners, bicycle repairers, typists, solicitors, singers and welfare officers.”
While our children were young, Bill would take them out as soon as they were old enough to go with him without me. He took them to the seaside most
fine weekends while we lived near Norwich. He took them vast distances on trains
all over the country . I stayed at home with whichever baby was there at the time. I don’t think you could have set any of our son’s down anywhere
with them not being able to find their way home by bus and train. I suppose that was one of the advantages of not having a car.
The boys and Francesca
became very independent and capable. If they ever needed any general knowledge,
they would go to their father because he was a mine of information. As an amateur radio enthusiast, he had a transmitting licence and his own rig since 1952 and you have to know all about the insides of a radio.
He was also qualified to teach the morse code. Indoors, he would help with the washing up, hanging out the washing and doing my shopping. Over
all, he was a very good example to those newly blind persons, who think that the end of the world has come for them.
So, while we are at it, let us
sing the praises of Louis Braille, because Bill didn’t learn from a cassette.
I said he was a fighter. When he was a switchboard operator, he had to insist that he had some Saturday mornings off, the same as sighted office
staff. Also, Barclays were not going to allow him a bank account ( in the early sixties), but they had to alter their regulations due to his
persistence. Something similar happened when he applied for Disability Allowance,
many years later. The doctors, on two occasions, said he didn’t qualify, so we did without it for many years.In the end, I told them a few home truths and they changed their minds – but why were the doctors so stupid?
The times I have had to clean up dog excreta off his shoes when we first came here to Reedham – until I put a notice in the post office about it.
Well, you wouldn’t like him to come into your hall if he’d trodden in such unpleasant material.
Well, I’ve had to let him go now. He had been tired since he had lost his independence. The railways had cancelled our usual train back to Reedham
and we had to stay out for four and a half hours to do our shopping at Lowestoft and that was too much for him, as it was when they took all the kerbs away.
Guide dogs are taught to ‘Stop at the kerb’ and they were taking them all away. And when they took away our right to cross the line and we had to
go up and down all those steps, Bill became frustrated.
Also, the humdreds of painkillers he had to take because of the pain in his eyes caused by Moorfields, way back, surely contributed to this.So, three cheers for
Bill. I am missing him but at least I know he his out of pain and can see all his sons, daughter, grandsons and granddaughters, great grandson and
great granddaughters – and me, at last.
Beryl Cox on 1st December 2008 at St. John’s Church, Reedham, Norfolk.