Thursday, 12 July 2007

Right - have decided the only way I can do this, is if I squeeze in 10 mins in my lunch hour every day - otherwise it won't work. As a result you'll get short items - hopefully 4 - 5 ish times a week if this system gets going. My old pics are all in boxes as I've just moved house but should be able to locate some over the weekend.

Think I left off first blog talking about rough tough primary school in Berwick upon Tweed. Most of us had head lice - as it equally common nowadays - but the treatment was different. I remember running out of the classroom to visit the nasty outside toilets when I was about 6 or 7, to find one of the scariest girls in the schools all hunched up on her own in the corner of the playground with her head in her hands - she'd had all her hair shaved off and someone had given a dirty, turban like hat to wear to keep her warm. Years later I had a holiday job in a supermarket in the town - she worked on the next till to me - I never knew whether she remembered me or not and I was still a bit scared of her but I was really happy to see she had very long, shiny dark hair.

In answer to the question about why I knew so much about God - it had been drummed into me from an early age - my father was a leading light in the church choir and we were all marched to Church every Sunday (Church always had a capital letter in those days) - I liked the singing but Dad always used to embarrass us by singing the descant to all the hymns. We had big picture bibles full of horrific pictures which used to give me nightmares - Moses parting the waters so that the Israelites could cross over, but then Pharoh's men drowning when the water returned, the crucifixion, the slaughter of the innocents - all gruesomely depicted in my bedtime reading. We also had to say our prayers every night - god bless mummy and daddy and granny and alison, tinny, robbie and then a long list of all our pets.

I adored having a birthday on 28th October, because it meant that my birthday party could be a Halloween party. It was always brilliant. Every year,my mother would snap out of frugal mode and put on the most wonderful party tea. There would be sausages on sticks, egg sandwiches, meringues, chocolate crispies, buns with icing on top in paper cases, homemade shortbread biscuits shaped like life belts with chocolate stripes and jellies. We would all sit around the table and eat and eat until our tummies could take no more. We would catch sticky buns in our mouths which would hang from the pulley, we would duck for apples, play the smelling or feeling game where we’d sit in the dark and try to guess what was being passed around - or there was the sucking up dried peas on a straw game. Thanks to my mother who always threw herself into the arrangements with gusto, my birthday parties as a child were always legendary. She once made me a gingerbread Hansel and Gretel house cake with licorice allsorts for windows and doors and all sorts of other sweets for flowers in the gardens and chimneys and curtains etc.

Sweets were big in our house. My father used to take 6 teaspoons of sugar in his tea and every Saturday he'd bring us children a great big selection of boiled sweets, creamline toffees, everton mints, lucky numbers, sherbert lemons, sour plums - which were usually all finished by Monday. Alison and I were always having fillings at the dentist, although Tinny and Robbie weren't affected. The dentist had terrible halitosis and drilled our teeth fiercely with no injections. I was terrified of going and had to be bribed with a trip to the cafe afterwards. Needless to say I still hate going to the dentist today, but at least you get a numbing injection.

My mother had 4 sisters - and a brother (who was very clever but had manged to escape to Canada - presumably so he wouldn't have to look after them all). They were all much older than her. The eldest sister, a nurse in her 60s at this stage, was asked to look after her brother's father in law who was a retired Church of Scotland minister and was in his 80s and dying. Much to our astonishment, when I was about 11, she ended up marrying him. My mother was aghast! We girls were disgusted to find they were also sharing a bed - at that age! we thought The next sister, Mary, also a nurse, had married in her 50s. Auntie Nancy, another nurse, was still unmarried in her late 50s and surprised us all by marrying a man sustantially younger than her - and younger than our father. He was a banker who lived in Chelmsford. My brother Robbie and I used to think he was slightly strange because he was always very keen to play "ball" with us, with Auntie Mary's evil tempered scotty dog who insisted on rodgering the football at every opportunity. At any opportunity when were were playing on the lawn with the dog - and strange Chris, he would lean over and say "I think that deserves a kiss, don't you" . We never mentioned it to anyone and nothing else happened but we always had him down as a bit of a strange one. Nancy and Chris eventually departed to the Hebridean Isles where they ran a bed and breakfast and Chris worked in a bank in Tobermory. The final sister lived in Edinburgh and ran a hotel until her husband died suddenly of a heart attack at 42. She had 2 daughters, 10 years older than us, who stayed frequently with us.

Holidays were always spent in damp, drafty cottages in Scotland - which allowed my father to fish - we absolutely adored our holidays - even if we were dragged up several mountains in the process - I used to like the boats and being allowed to have an ice cream and crisps every day.

Sorry getting a bit bogged down in this early section - but suffice to say had a nice, scruffy happy childhood - but suddenly - from our tartan clad background, like a bolt from the blue - all we three girls were packed off to boarding school - in Yorkshire - of all places - it was like another world - and a complete culture change. We were teased about our accents and we certainly didn't have the right trendy clothes. We were incarcarated on the Yorkshire Moors for several years (I later learnt it was because my elder sister had been gathering a bit of a reputation for enjoying the choir boys company - obviously my parents decided we were all destined to go the same way, and so would be safer in a more God fearing establishment where we couldn't escape. We wore Harry Potter type brown cloaks and had to attend chapel every night. I was very very homesick. To be continued the next time I can find a few minutes. Pics to come. Sorry this isn't proof read so possibly typos - I am getting very suspicious glances from my workmates so need to log off.

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