Posted by: madkentdragon | March 9, 2010

In The Beginning …..

I was born in 1948 to parents who were both in their 40s – who had married two years earlier. Mum had been “in service” for twenty years to a now elderly couple who lived in one of the big houses at the top of the road where my grandad (Dad’s dad) leased a little general shop at the other end. Dad had just come back from 3 years on the Death Railway and was recovering from the horrendous experience.

Neither had been married before although there was no doubt that Dad had enjoyed himself in the time he had been in Australia before the war, tales of the horse bringing him back from the pub etc abounded. But this was a different man, who had suffered too much and did not want to bother with anything – he just wanted a quiet life.

Grandad’s housekeeper wanted to retire and my mum’s employers no longer wanted a live-in housekeeper, so a plan was hatched and in September 1946 my parents married in the local registry office.

Life as a baby and toddler seemed perfect as it did when I started school, we weren’t wealthy but Dad made sure all the bills were paid and we were well fed and clothed, but as his interest in Mum waned so did her interest in housework and her interests were smoking and gossiping. No-one’s fault wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time. The shop was failing it couldn’t keep up with more modern establishments with freezers etc., but all this passed me by – school interested me and I enjoyed it as I did the Sunday walks with my Dad where he showed me birds nests with eggs in and what happened when they hatched – butterflies and all the world’s natural beauty.

Life was good – OK  I was discouraged from inviting friends home – didn’t realise it was because the place was so dirty – but he would pay a friend’s mother to arrange birthday parties for me. But everything seemed fine to my inexperienced eyes, Dad got a job, collecting rentals for the original cable company Rediffusion – three years earlier he had turned down the offer to head up a new office for the Provident Credit company; he had worked for them in between coming back from Australia and being called up. All he wanted was a position without too much responsibility, too much for him now. Grandad had died when I was four and Dad had to cope in a job he didn’t want.

Rediffusion made him happy, he was out in the air and meeting people and a happy daddy was a happy family, Mum sat in the remnants of the shop gossiping and smoking and I went to school, happy.

Auntie moved in with us when I was 11, she was disabled and had lived with Mum’s mum until she died and this was the only time I heard my parents argue as Dad didn’t want her but Mum had made a promise – and so she came to us – an angry woman. But the home was clean at last and Dad made a sensible decision, he formally closed the shop and Mum went out to work!

When the lease expired, we moved to a council flat and by this time I was in grammar school, having passed the 11 plus things seemed to be running quite well. Both parents were working – not much money but we all seemed content and so it progressed until, having got a clutch of ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, I left school – but that story has already been told.

 Dad died of stomach cancer and Mum had a stroke after suffering with Alzheimer’s for 10 years – she couldn’t cope without Dad.


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