Friday, May 16, 2008

Trips up North

Story contd.

I may have lived most of my life in the south, but I come from good northern stock and my blood has bits of grit and soot in it; I am proud of my northern roots so I was thrilled when # 1 son chose a northern university. I was happy to think of him amongst the sort of decent folk I had been brought up with. The humour, the honesty, the love of countryside and mountains – I hoped it would all rub off on him. He certainly inherited a love of real ale and sport.

It was a long tiring drive so I would stop off at my parent’s house in Lancashire. I didn’t use the motorway so there were endless roundabouts. Once when driving his first girlfriend back – round about Essex - a policeman stopped me and said I had gone through a red light. In fact, as I told him, it was amber, to which he replied.

‘You can’t con a copper.’

I realised there was little point in explaining that I had been driving for hours with the sun in my eyes ( going south) and ended up paying a fine of £30 – a lot of money in the seventies.

At one time my son was living off campus in Morecambe and visiting him, I slept in an attic room with a skylight over the bed. How romantic I thought – I’ll be able to look at the stars. It was bitterly cold and I spread my mink coat on top of the bed and when I awoke there was a pool of icy water in the middle of it. I had the day to myself, and I remembered that Delia – an old nursing friend and our gold medallist, had written that her mother had settled, up near Silverdale, so I set off to see if I could find the house. To my joy Delia answered the door. She was visiting her mother and we had a great catch up over a delicious Lancashire tea. We both smoked then (the weed as she called it) but as she waved good bye to me at the station, I didn’t realise that would be our last meeting. She died soon after from lung cancer.

All their lives my parents had spent holidays in the Lake District and one week-end Dad drove us up and we met my son and stayed in a hotel in the Langdales. It was like going back in time to be roaming the hills with them again and we all had a great time. Dad never let me forget that – as a young girl – I had cycled the wrong way round a roundabout and he had difficulty grasping the fact that I was now quite an experienced driver. Once I was driving him on the main road near Tunbridge Wells Common and he thought the junction we passed was a main road and grabbed the keys out of the ignition. Can you imagine? Fortunately my mother, unlike me, had the ability to switch off and remain calm, so they survived over 60 years of marriage.

.When Mum eventually retired – she worked past 70, she looked years younger and I don’t think they realised how old she was – she loved to come down and visit and she and William used go on long walks. It was nice for him to have a walking companion who wasn’t perpetually asking if we were nearly there – as the kids and I were wont to do. Occasionally she was taken for his wife and I was happy that they both got on so well.

Driving through Skipton on a visit home Mum asked me if I knew Jamie had bought a cottage near Skipton – Maddie had told her. I remember wondering if I would recognise him if I bumped into him. And then I thought how ridiculous – after 30 years I’d probably walk straight past him.

One of my happiest days was going up north with William to see our son get his degree. Our younger son was happily settled in a flat and had started training to be a photographer. I felt our marriage hadn’t been a complete failure. That was 1978. I little knew what fate had in store for me and that within a year, my life would change for ever.

28 comments:

Z said...

One of my sons went to Lancaster University too. He liked it there, but he said he couldn't live up North!

Lucky that thirty years ago not too many cars had a steering lock that came on when the key was switched off - your dad could have caused a disaster! I trust you absolutely exploded?

Another cliffhanger - lovely...

Guyana-Gyal said...

Kismet is catching up, Pat. Destiny with YTL.

This makes me think, how we trundle along in life...then suddenly, one little turn, and everything's different.

kenju said...

Have I told you how much I am enjoying your story?

john.g. said...

You can't beat good Northern stock!

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

I've often wondered what would happen if I pulled the keys out of the ignition when I was driving.

I would have been mad with curiosity about Jamie, if I were you. So close! It's lovely how these strong links to the Lake District brought you both back over the years.

granny said...

I'm still in there reading, Pat, if silent... A lot of discretion in here - I think...But it all still hooks me.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Some lovely stories there, Pat. Michele sent me here.

PI said...

Z: coincidence! MTL's two boys went to Durham and daughter went to St Hilda's.
I love my Dad dearly but he had the ability to envelop me in a red mist. I was always a girl to him. I miss him.

GG: there is always the possibility of something great round the corner although I never believed it then. I do now.

Judy: you have now. Bless you:)

Sam: over the years I learned to be mentally tough and realistic - those sort of things only happen in Peg's Paper. Don't they?

Granny: yes - there is a bit.

Jean-luc: thank you:)

PI said...

Johng: well said:)

Eryl Shields said...

Oh my, this is too exciting! I won't sleep now till I hear the rest.

BTW, love your boy's curls.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This is getting really good, Pat...Not that it hasn't been fascinating all through, but I feel that excitement of what will happwen next and I look forward to the next installment with baited breath...(If that is the correct expression...lol). I wish I had the opportunity to see Northern England when I was there....Many people have said I would love it! It is great to read about it and kind of see it through your eyes, my dear.

gautami tripathy said...

Today I realised how much I have missed your stories. I added you to my google reader just a while back!

However, I got here from Michele today.

Sim said...

Ahh - the lovely Graduation photos. A very proud day for all :)

So, no more curls...??

PI said...

Eryl: No emotional blackmail now!

Naomi: 'Within a year'. Don't worry I won't stretch it out too long but it won't be immediate, so keep taking nice, deep, even breaths:)

Gautami: thank you ! I'm honoured:)

Sim: he knows I don't like it very short cropped so makes a point of not getting it cut when we are seeing each other but it's never long enough for a curl to develop. Alas!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Michele sent me back to reread your excellent post

Sue said...

Good Morning! Michelle sent me. I love memories - mine and others. I could never drive with my dad. He never took the keys out, but he got SO tense that I couldn't concentrate!

Bob-kat said...

Hi Pat! Of course you are forgiven, thanks for popping by! :)

I love the Lake District. It is one of my favourite places. The scenery is so dramatic!

sablonneuse said...

Oh, staying in student digs as a visiting mum isn't always what you expect is it? Getting near crunch time then. . .

PI said...

Jean-luc: you can always scroll down:)

Sue: Dads - who'd have 'em. I would!!!

Bob-kat: thank you. I don't know what came over me.

Sablonneuse: it's like Christmas- it's coming but not just yet.

Theo said...

rites of passge often lodge thier memories pleasantly within us. than you for sharing these!

Michele sent me.

PI said...

Hi Theo!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I'm glued. More, more....

Guyana-Gyal said...

I love this, love this, loooove this: 'there is always the possibility of something great round the corner.'

Karen said...

Great stories today, Pat. And since I'm going to a friend's graduation this morning, very appropriate. (She's getting a PhD. I'm not THAT young!)

Hope you're having a lovely day. Michele sent me.

PI said...

Hoss: oh my public are sooooo demanding:)

GG: it's true. Trust me I'm a romantic.

PI said...

Karen: glad the post was fitting:)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Ooo ooo ooo what a great instalment, and a cliffhanger, AND I get to read the next instalment straight away! Lovely to catch up with you.

PI said...

Zinnia: I bet you say that to all the Bloggers:)