A True Story

A note from the author, MARK HAYSOM:

I am indebted to a former colleague for the story at the heart of THE GIFT – a remarkable and true story.

After my Christmas story in 2014 (OCAR OLIVER’S CHRISTMAS), she wrote to tell me that the first Christmas gift her father ever received was at the age of twenty-two, on the day before his marriage.

Every year until then, he had been told by his grandfather who raised him that he hadn’t been good enough to deserve a present.

Geoffrey George Horscroft was born illegitimately in 1911 in a poverty-stricken area of Kentish Town, London: he never knew who his father was. At the age of two he was abandoned by his laundry-maid mother and left with his grandfather.

His grandfather took him with him to his place of work – he was a zinc worker – and left in the stables during the day with the horses for company and bread for food.

In 1933 he met Edith Ann Constant and married her on Boxing Day of that year. That Christmas, she gave him the first present he had received in his life. They were so poor, they didn’t have a table to sit at, had to eat from a cloth on the floor.

Edith was born in Dartford in 1913 (one of ten children) and her father was Nelson James Constant – a labourer, who had lost a leg when he was run over as a nine-year-old by a horse and cart.

Edith’s grandfather father was Nelson James Trevillion Constant, a Bombardier in the Royal Artillery who served in Fyzabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Geoffrey was apprenticed to a builder, became a bricklayer and then a house builder. In their married lives together, Christmas was always a very special time.

I have taken a few liberties with the story of Geoffrey and Edith. I have moved it to an earlier time and I have imagined what I don’t know – what the young boy’s life was like and, of course, what that first gift he received might have been.

That apart, I hope I have remained true to the facts and the spirit of their story.

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5 Responses to A True Story

  1. Eileen hawes November 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    Wonderful story,made me cry as well…..loved it…

  2. Barbara Taylor November 30, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    What a lovely story it really caught my imagination whilst reading it in the sunshine. Thank you

  3. doreen buck November 26, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    I have read two of your stories this week and thoroughly enjoyed both!THANKYOU Mr Haysom. They are sad,yet full of compassion too.I hope I have the opportunity to read more of your intriguing book’s. May you enjoy success in al of your writings.

    • Mark Haysom November 27, 2015 at 8:38 am #

      Thank you so much, Doreen, for taking the trouble to leave a comment.It’s great to get this kind of feedback. I don’t know whether you have seen all of my free stories? If not, you will find them here http://markhaysom.wpengine.com/the-stories/. And then there’s always my novels to move on to! Mark

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