Thursday, 18 October 2007

Never to be forgotten Christmas 1977

As a child I thought every daddy went to the pub in the evening, why should I think it not be the case. My dad did it so surely that was a mans way. It was not home for dinner and then out to the pub, no it was straight from work, I'm sure there would have been too much grief from my mother should he come home and have his dinner first. My gran sensing that perhaps her being there all the time was not helping the situation, she bought a caravan on a residential estate a 45 minute drive away. She would stay with us Monday to Thursday for work and retreat to the caravan, by train, on a Friday after work and return to us on a Sunday night. I missed her when she was gone. I was all alone in my big double bed, with nobody to sing with.



I'm not sure why, I think perhaps his mother had died, but Uncle Bert needed somewhere to stay, my gran said he should stay in the caravan, after all it was empty Monday to Thursday, my gran had it well stacked with all the possessions she had taken from the house, he would have somewhere to stay meaning the caravan no longer lay empty, it also meant she would not be alone at the weekends during the long winter nights. It was a one bedroom caravan, so Uncle Bert would sleep on the couch when my gran went home at the weekends. Uncle Bert had a car so they would go shopping and he would run her back and forward to our house for work. The situation was ideal for everyone, my mum no longer had to put a brave face on at the weekend, Uncle Bert had somewhere to stay, granny had company, but poor papa he was furious and nasty his best friend shacked up with his now ex-wife, he said things he could never take back. My mother must have been torn in two, her mother and father and their best friend all at logger heads, my gran saying things about my papa and vice versa and the fact was they were not 'shacked up'. I know this was a fact because my gran told me so and they had no reason to hid a relationship should they wish to have one, my gran was 53 and Uncle Bert was 50, they were both free agents, consenting adults. Uncle Bert bought another caravan and being the great handy man he was put them together and made a luxury 2 bedroom caravan. Sorted, a bedroom each, and should we go and stay, us 'the family' Uncle Bert gave up his room for us and slept on the couch.



Granny and Uncle Bert could see they got on and one day granny came in and announced they were getting married! My granny the master bombshell dropper. And my mother in a state of dumbfoundment blurted out 'Have you thought about the sex?' now to let you understand granny was a private person she never discussed periods or sex or body parts or bared skin in front of even my mother, so for my mother to blurt out this statement even at the age of nearly 29 must have knocked my granny of her feet a bit, but she calmly responded 'Yes, I have thought about the sex' to this day we have no idea what exactly she thought about it, perhaps they had already had a test drive and that was the clinching decider, who knows. Now perhaps other people could see this coming but I don't even think my gran and Uncle Bert did, I have no doubt they loved each other they had been best friends for 30 somewhat years, whether they were in love I don't know, but it was a love that would blossom. They had discussed it rationally and had decided to marry for varying reasons, for personal reasons Uncle Bert did not want any of his money or possessions, should he die, to go to his sister and who better to be his next of kin than his best friend. They had already set up home and worked well together. Uncle Bert was the most genuine, kind, lovely person so who better to spend the rest of your life with and many people assumed they were a couple as they lived in the same caravan anyway. And just in case anyone hasn't read the previous posts Uncle Bert was not related, simply named Uncle as you do with your closest friends and children. So on the 11th Feb 1977 granny married Uncle Bert in a registry office on her 54th birthday, I was 4 and proud as punch to be at my gran's wedding. I wonder if my mother warned me not to discuss the wedding with my papa or whether he was adult enough to realise I was a child and not concerned with the hurt and anguish he was going through. It was less than 2 years since my gran had walked out and left my papa. My papa had since moved to Dunoon as he had taken a job there. My gran left her job and went to work in 'the big house' in the caravan estate. It was a huge stately home, my gran cleaned and helped the lady of the house to cater for huge parties, my gran would cook, serve, clean and she loved it. My mum and I were now grandparent free, no longer gran coming in for dinner or papa waiting on the door step.



Whatever job my dad had at the time, he had a blue transit van, he usually always had a works van in all the jobs he had and there were a few. The blue transit van had 2 seats and an upside down drinks crate, the crate had a cushion on it and this was my seat, when I think about it now, sandwiched in between the 2 seats it makes me smile, smile at the memories and the complete madness, nobody wore seat belts and hey it's perfectly normal for a 4 year old to travel on a crate seat! We would go and spend the weekend with granny and Uncle Bert and the dog, how could I have forgotten the dog, she was a Yorkshire terrier named Midge, I assume my gran must have got custody of Midge because she was about before I was born, there was a fantastic beach nearby and the summer weather seemed to be much better then, we would all go to the beach with a big cooler box filled with food and juice and of course Tenants lager, in those days Tenants lager had the ladies on the cans, I at the age of 4 used to know the name of every lady on the cans. We would play games, eat, drink, go in the water, my dad was great fun, he always played whatever I wanted to, never said no, like my mother sometimes did in the house when she was in the middle of cleaning or cooking or gutting cupboards and I wanted to play a game. I find I now do that to my kids and it haunts me. I loved these times, but then my dad was happy too he had the best of both worlds his family and his lager. We would laugh and enjoy each others company and then my dad would drive us home. Didn't everyone drink and drive then?



My grans happiness was short lived when on the 22nd December 1977, 10 months after marrying, Uncle Bert had a massive heart attack and died age 50. His funeral took place on Boxing Day. I don't think we did much for Christmas that year. How sad for my mum and gran to have to carry on and make Christmas normal for me, I was 5.

10 comments:

The HOR blogger said...

You're doing such a wonderful job of writing this. I find myself looking forward to more, just so you know :)

Self employed mum said...

Thank you, I'm glad you look forward to more, I'm only just beginning!! LOL

Frog in the Field said...

This is fantastic!
I was gripped the whole way through.
I shared in the unsaid things about Dads and drinking and their mothers remarrying.
Fabulous, Thanks for sharing it with 'us'.

Self employed mum said...

Hi Frog In The Field, nice to see you. I have got to get these things cleared from my head in order to carry on. Too many bottle emotions in my head. x

Crystal Jigsaw said...

You are doing really well opening up like this, whatever you are looking for is definitely looking for you too.

An upside down crate would indeed raise a few eyebrows these days. It is such a shame how times have changed, making way for what's right and wrong, forgetting about enjoying life along the way.

I have to tell you also that I have discovered the mystery surrounding my dream of Scrap. That day he rang my husband see if he was shooting today, they are in game shooting syndicate, pheasants, partrdge etc. Whilst we were on holiday, my husband's phone rang and it was Scrap. I always dream for a purpose, I always have. But thanks for asking your mum, that meant a lot.

Best wishes, Crystal xx

Self employed mum said...

Hi Crystal, Scrap that's funny here's me racking my brains but it brought back nice memories. Nice to see you back.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Hey there s/employed mum.... Still visiting.....

Suzy said...

Great post! And you're right about the drinking and driving- it was considered not much of a big deal-
"back in the day".
Love that you included Midge the dog...

XOXO

Suzy

Self employed mum said...

Hi MMOF nice to see you and thanks. x

Self employed mum said...

Hi Suzy, thanks so much for coming over and leaving your comments. You've been on my mind all evening! x