I’m aware of some other holidays from those early days: trips to the seaside with my mum, my cousin and her mum. I’m not sure which seaside town it would be but it was almost certainly Blackpool or Bridlington (‘Brid” as it’s known here in the north). I know of these holidays through photographs I have found of two little girls – one fair and one dark – sometimes in matching clothes and almost exactly the same height. In the photos we are often holding hands and in one we are enjoying a ride in a motorbike and sidecar on a roundabout.
The other little girl was Susan and we were born just three weeks apart. But because my mum and dad were both the youngest of their family and because I had arrived later in their lives, my first cousins were all grown up well before me, so it’s actually Susan’s mother who is my first cousin. In reality, Susan was the sister I never had and we have remained close all our lives and now we have children and grandchildren of similar ages. I can remember just one major incident which threatened our friendship, which was the day when Susan abducted Ricky the dog, who you may remember, had to be rescued from a B&B in Callander. Susan had been visiting us for the day (we often played at each other’s home) and, unbeknown to me had decided to take Ricky home with her. Bedtime came and panic ensued. You children will all appreciate how precious these bedtime friends are. We were lucky enough to have a ‘phone and a call was made. Ricky had travelled back to Susan’s house, hidden about her person! He was found and returned straight away. I’m sorry, Susan, I’ve never let you forget this! It’s just another lovely shared memory.
Susan recently reminded me that one summer we both had a striped t-shirt /matching shorts combo, something I had quite forgotten. We were away on one of the short breaks we try to do once a year now. Alongside enjoying a visit to a special exhibition (this year it was the Terracotta Warriors in Liverpool), we always spend a lot of time remembering and laughing and sometimes we each remember something the other had forgotten. It often means that we have less time sightseeing than we anticipated!
Perhaps now is a good time to fill in a few more family gaps. As I explained before, mum had four sisters and of those sadly Jessie died at a very young age. Her half-sister, Emmie, never married although I always understood that at some point there had been a young man in her life called Fred and that he might have died in the First World War. Violet was married later in life and didn’t have any children and Bessie was the only other sister to have a family. Kathleen and Alan were her children and Kathleen had a son and Alan had two sons and a daughter. On my dad’s side, his half brother, Ronnie, had two sons but the whole family lost touch with them many many years ago. His half sisters Elsie and Doris were both married but Doris had no children. Elsie had three children, Muriel, Gladys and Alan and they all have children too and it’s Gladys’s daughter Susan who has always been my sister.
Just a quick mention that Susan and I made our first major family appearance at the original “Muriel’s Wedding” in September 1947, an event that was perhaps overshadowed by that ‘other’ wedding which took place in November.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my cousin, Alan, my mother’s nephew. We are the only 2 members of our generation on that side of the family and I am 71 while he is 85! We often try to piece things together and he can fill in some of the blanks but, as a young boy just growing up during and after the war years, he wasn’t privy to any of the family discussions. My aunties rather reminded me of Les Dawson’s fabulous creations, Cissie and Ada. Those two characters were typical (if rather exaggerated) northern women of a certain age. I learned that Alan’s father had fought in the First World War and was taken prisoner. He has no other details, so I am going to try and find out some more.
As to me wondering if there was any clue about why I am an only child? No! It wasn’t something they talked about in front of him.
Still, the pleasure of the afternoon was reminiscing; sharing memories with family.