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In the years before the Second World War, he acquired a reputation as an amateur Norfolk dialect comedian, performing at social functions in many parts of the county and on the radio. However, he is most famous for The Boy John Letters. The letters appeared in the Eastern Daily Press, the regional newspaper, at irregular intervals. Grapes would simply write them when he felt like it - and they were always signed "The Boy John". They reported the events in the Boy John's village, and, in addition to the Boy John - a farm worker - they featured as their main characters his Aunt Agatha, Granfar, and old Mrs. W, their neighbour.
Most of the letters ended with a PS containing one of Aunt Agatha's aphorisms, which became famous throughout the county, such as "Aunt Agatha she say: all husbands are alike, only they have different faces so you can tell 'em apart".