Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Family memories

There are certain memories I wish I had committed to paper, even as a child. It is very difficult to scoop up random information in the brain now, even though I am still on the right side of 50. So I’m going to start with a broom and see how much I can sweep into the middle of the room; there may be something worth preserving.
I want to start with my Uncle Ernest. He very sensibly married my Aunt Mary, who was my grandpa’s cousin. It was just before the war. She was a beauty and understandably caught the eye of this charming Yorkshireman. They had two wonderful kids, Donald and Barbara, Donald was to study and lecture in Maths, Barbara was a secretary and part time model. It was a laughter filled house, mostly due to Uncle Ernest who was a real wag. He did a corny selection of magic tricks including pulling sixpences and half crowns out of my ears! They always ended up as my pocket money, making me rich for a month.
Ernest owned a barber shop on the corner of a street in Castleford, W. Yorkshire. It was an old-fashioned, “men only” establishment, with a miniscule shop attached to it, selling razors and cigarette papers and goodness knows what else. I think it was more of a store-cupboard than a shop, and was always very disorganised. When I was eight, he let me lose in it to tidy it up. I failed miserably.
He was known sometimes as Ernie (outside of Aunt Mary’s hearing – I think she always called him Ernest). He wore a brown gabardine type overall in the barber shop and discussed the horses with his customers. At the weekends he was very dapper, wearing tweed jackets and perky homburgs. I was always fascinated by his glossy bald head – even as a child it struck me he wasn’t a great advertisement for his profession.
He drove a Hillman Minx and we often went on picnics with him and Aunt Mary. We followed in our Morris Minor. Aunt Mary always navigated and it was just as well as I don’t think he had much of a natural compass inside him. Aunt Mary was the closest you got to a GPS in the 1960s.
Tea in Castleford was always a bountiful affair. Aunt Mary made a wicked Victoria sponge filled with whipped cream and raspberries. I think it was the only time I was ever allowed two pieces of cake at a meal.
Ernest died about 20 years ago, but my Aunt Mary is still around in her late 90’s. Thanks for the memories Mr and Mrs Thatcher.

1 comment:

rutimizrachi said...

Lovely! They sound charming. Your description allows me to see inside your Uncle Ernie's shop; and I can almost imagine his smile as he pulls his magic tricks on you.

You remind me of how "Grandpa Padgi" used to conduct the orchestra on the wireless, with his bald head framed by wild tufts of white hair over his ears. His name was Paul, and he was the second husband of my mother's great aunt -- I don't know why he we called him Padgi. I loved to watch him shave. He would put the shaving cream on his face with a brush, humming the whole time. Then he would amuse me by blowing out his cheeks and slapping out "Shave and a Haircut" with his hands, until he'd blown out all the air in lively bursts of sound.

Thanks for the forum to pull up a memory!