Meet the 99-year-old former RAF man from Sutton Coldfield who can't stop writing
“Excuse the office, I’m afraid it is a bit untidy,” an apologetic Cedric Parcell. says to me
He really needn’t worry. Apart from a few papers on a desk in front of him, there’s very little out of place. It’s a wonderful office steeped in history. An old school photograph and war medals adorns one wall, a painting of 99-year-old Cedric in his time in the RAF sits proudly on a cabinet opposite.
“When I was with the RAF, I was with the occupation forces in Austria at the end of the war,” he says. “In those days, the Austrian schilling was worth nothing. The trading was done in cigarettes. I got a man to do that oil painting for me for 200 cigarettes!”
Also noticeable is a shelf, full of books which, most eye-catching of all, are predominantly written by Cedric. “I have always enjoyed writing,” he explains. “I was 16 when I left school and had a short period with the Hull Daily Mail before I went into the RAF at 18.
“I started writing again when I retired as I couldn’t hang around doing nothing. I started off doing family history and traced it back a long way because Parcell was an unusual name. Then I decided I would write it up as a book called Part and Parcell. I do illustrating as well.”
A resident of Sutton for more than 60 years, Cedric spent six years in the RAF from 1940-46, stationed at Tangmere, where he experienced heavy bombing during the Battle of Britain.
He also participated in a naval engagement in the Mediterranean.
After the war, he spent time in Kenya, with the East African Railway Training School, Malawi and Bermuda, where he advised on race relations.
It’s such experiences and heartache – his first girlfriend Jessie was killed in an air raid in 1943 – that have helped shape Cedric’s literary work.
“I have been busy in my time,” he reflects. “I attribute the fact I have lived so long to the fact I have had plenty to do. My life experiences have shaped my books. A lot of my books involve life in the airforce but I have different stories.
“One book, A Thousand Words From Home , is based on letters I wrote to my mother when I was in the Middle East. I grew from boyhood to manhood in those years, learning to live in all conditions.
"There is one called, Take What Life Offers, reflecting on the fact my mother didn’t take advantage of her chances in life. I have written books like Millie’s Magic Carpet, for my great grandchildren.”
Cedric has written more than a dozen books in total and shows no signs of stopping, adding: “I am currently working on volume of family history.
“I am writing it as poetry. It’s called Relatives in Rhyme.”
Among the poems is one called A Bucketful of Wishes in which he writes: ‘’I’ve read somewhere that we should make a list, A hundred things we want to do or see.” Cedric has done a great deal and seen the world but he shows no signs of slowing up.