Tuesday, January 17, 2006

UNCLE BILL

Story Contd

It was Uncle Bill's fault. Dad's older brother was our favourite uncle. He always had sweeties in his pocket for us - even if they were usually covered in fluff. Dad's brothers and cousins formed a cricket team and Bill was the popular wicket keeper - which accounted for his corncrake voice - all those 'HOWZAT'S!' He had a brown leathery face and his big bluff exterior hid a very gentle man. Like us he belonged to the Unitarian Church and for years - before WW1 he had been friends with three sisters - the Misses Davis.

During the war he was awarded the Military medal for gallantry near Ypres and Maddie still has the beautiful embroidered cards he sent to 'my dear friends' the Davis sisters. We believe he was in love with Aunty Jean (they were honorary aunts to us) but with the constant proximity of the other two sisters it would be a rare occasion that he would ever be alone with her.

He used to take Maddie when he visited them. They lived in the town about a mile away and this gave Mum a break from three little ones. I don't know how it came about - I wasn't consulted - but when Maddie was six it was decided that she would go and live with the aunts. Maddie was excited and happy. The aunts were well off and had a shoe shop and a telephone. Marion was a chiropodist and Eileen and Jean were skilled seamstresses. Maddie would have endless shoes, happy feet, exquisite dresses AND a telephone - a rarity in the thirties. There was a bit of envy flying around - especially when I had to miss out on some school trips because we couldn't afford them.

I am certain that everyone acted from the best of motives - believing that our lives and opportunities would be enhanced. I am also certain that my parents regretted it till the day they died. Initially life did get easier; Dad bought a motor bike and sidecar and instead of a coach trip to Blackpool at Wakes week, we now explored Britain. Our first trip was from Lancashire down through the South West to Land's End. Evan and I hid behind a rock and Dad was sure we had drowned in the swirling waters. When we popped out he roared 'This is the last time we're coming to this bloody place!'

Evan was so impressed with this trip he repeated it when he went on honeymoon and I - a lifetime later - have chosen to end my days here , the South West that is, not Land's End. Maddie was also taken hither and yon by the aunts but travelled in a more up market mode. We happily exchanged experiences when she came home every Sunday. We had family parties when Maddie would play the piano and I would sing Deanna Durbin's latest hits and Evan would groan at his boring sisters.

The Lake District became our favourite place. We camped on the edge of Lake Windemere and hired a wooden rowing boat. Evan and I were allowed to go fishing on the lake and we would tie up to a rusted sign sayinG 'DANGER ROCKS KEEP OFF' Evan would attach the minnows we had caught - with the aid of pieces of bread and a jamjar- to the hook ( I was too squeamish) and then we would wait until the floats bobbed under the water which meant we had a bite. We caught perch and once Evan caught an eel. Mum would cook them on the primus in the evening and never was food polished off so quickly. That first week we climbed Helvellyn and Skiddaw. Looking back I feel so sad that Maddie wasn't there. This idyllic childhood was about to change. 'Storm clouds were gathering over Europe.' It was 1939 and by September we were at war.

12 comments:

Kath said...

Fantastic post, you make it so I can see the images in my head :o)

Universal Soldier said...

The Lake District is one of my favourite places in the world.

fjl said...

Thankyou for your lovely post, and well done for taking the plunge. I am struggling away with technical errors on blogspot at the moment, and am prepared to give it to my computer folk on Thursday who will sort it all out :0) .
I am fascinated by this wonderful love story and hope we'll be hearing all about it.

granny p said...

Glad (thanks to Ovagirl) to see another granny. And with such lovely stuff too...Thanks

granny p said...

Maybe I'm doing this twice; if so - sorry. Once enough. I said - say again -I'm glad to see another granny around blogland - and writing such lovely stuff too... came across you via Zinnia - think I said Ovagirl on other comment. Senior moments or something. Cheers.

PI said...

Kath Thanks. That's what every writer wants to hear.

US Glad to hear it. We haven't finished with the Lake District


fjl Welcome and good luck with the computer folk.

Hi Granny P. I know those senior moments only too well and it is miraculous I have got this far.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I love the way this post captures the complex mixture of sadness and happiness in a family childhood. It seems to be there in most of them, differently configured in each but always with a similar bittersweet quality that I recognise again here.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I was here, Ms. Perfect. And will return. You must be pretty close to my age bracket (I'm 75+).

PI said...

Zinnia. Yeah I'm feeling the bitter sweet bit too. But it was a happy childhod.

Hoss. I'm so delighted you came - I'm nearly jumping up and down but it wouldn't be seemly at my age. I am but a few months older but please keep it quiet. I'd do a happy face but I haven't learned how yet.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm trying to post comments, and can't. boo hoo.

Guyana-Gyal said...

There's something about other people's past that I enjoy. It's like the way my little nephews enjoy their grandma telling them of life here, and my little niece wants to hear about her father as a boy. This is something I should read on a Sunday with a cup of tea.

Did you see Mike's mum's blog?

PI said...

My Mum used to tell my grand-daughter what a little b....r I was as a child, Which delighted her of course. I try to keep up the tradition telling her tales of her father's misdeeds. Tee hee!
'Mike's Mum's blog?' How do I get it?