Man of Mystery - part 3
(if you are new to this topic, then you should really read parts 1 & 2 first – they might be helpful…)
The family home was lost, not to the bankruptcy Court but to a cousin of whom I was wholly unaware until then. Knowing that the property was at risk due to his impending bankruptcy my father sought to safeguard it by transferring his interest to – not his wife or adult daughter – but to this cousin “in lieu of unpaid wages”. I suspect that the cousin promptly took a loan out secured on the house, then failed to make any repayments. Or maybe it was a joint effort …? Either way, my parents & I moved to a rented flat for a few years, then to a modern “town house”, also rented, where they saw out the remainder of their days together.
When I was young, I had a cat. Given the domestic disharmony, I felt at times that this cat was the only constant in my life. It was a friend with whom I found solace and to whom I confided, my sisters having married and escaped as soon as possible. When we moved to the rented flat the cat was not with us. My parents had had it put down without saying anything to me.
They obviously didn’t like their children to be forewarned. My eldest sister left school at 17. She didn’t know she was leaving. The school had broken up for the summer holidays to the usual cries of “see you next term!” etc but, near to the end of the holidays my parents had told her that she wasn’t going back to school – it was time for her to get a job and contribute to the household.
For a number of my teenage years, my father & I drove to see his parents in their tiny bungalow near to the river Wyre. Our visits were usually on a Sunday afternoon and were a way of leaving the domestic battlefield. I used to “steer” the car and change the gears when instructed. Latterly I did the driving on “L” plates. We sat in their tiny sitting room, with a tiny black & white television blaring away throughout the visit. I say “sat” but it was sometimes difficult to be sure if everyone was sat, as my grandfather was an incessant smoker of pipes, cigars & cigarettes, and the low-ceilinged room was hung with a thick pall of blue tobacco smoke. His consumption of tobacco was only matched by his consumption of sweet tea, biscuits, cakes, bread, butter and thick cheese. This grossly unhealthy lifestyle eventually caught up with him, and he died aged 94, a few years after his wife. I wasn't in the UK at the time of his death so I don't know what my father did then to while away his time on Sunday afternoons.
Sunday lunch-time was always bad, as my parents seemed to reserve the worst of their rows for then, when they had their three children as an audience. Anything could set them off, anything. It was best to just eat in silence and hope you could finish before they started. Their “Sunday” row was usually accompanied by a popular radio program of the day – “Two-way Family-Favourites” playing in the background. This was in the ‘50s when the UK still had many servicemen based overseas, defending various bits of the planet from something or other. Their loved-ones in the UK could send a message over the airwaves, along with a request for a shared favourite record to be played for their husband or whoever, who would be listening to the show in, say, Germany. It seemed strange to be in a room with two people who had the utmost contempt for each other, whilst in the background, you could hear of a wife aching to be re-united with her husband who was serving overseas.
My parents were not bad people by any means – I don’t think either ever so much as raised their voice to any of their children. But their differences in temperament, expectations and needs led to a disharmonious marriage. It was not always so – I have seen photographs and heard stories of them going on holiday to North Wales, by motorbike & sidecar. I don’t know what changed them but from the time that I was of an age to really be “aware”, well they had arguments of heroic proportions & intensity.
That's it for the MoM for now but, having corresponded with a number of "readers" I may soon write a little more on personal matters - watch out for "Room 3.07" and "My Life & Other Disasters"!
The photograph on the e-mail was unusual because I took it at around 1130 pm and no photoshopping afterwards! We do not get any real night these days (if that makes sense) and you could garden or read outside until 10.00 or 11.00pm easily. It is more or less full daylight by 3.00am and a near-by cuckoo starts calling well before then! Plants, birds, and wild-life can and do feed round the clock, almost, as it is only a short breathing space for them until winter returns.
I'm setting off tomorrow for a couple of weeks in mid-Sweden so I may not post anything for a little while ....