Wednesday, 18 August 2010
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.