INSIGHTS ON IVOR
Part Thirty Two
Getting through the months following my mother’s death were helped in no small measure by the support given, once again, by my father’s two sisters Lily and Kate. In addition to Auntie Lily being a member of the St.John Ambulance Brigade she also loving cooking so Dad and I had no worries on that score. I remember doing the shopping for Auntie Lily and when she wanted me to get some lamb at the butchers she always insisted I must ask for ‘Half a shoulder of lamb, blade end’. In her eyes the blade end was the best part and I always managed to get it. What delicious meals she produced irrespective of which end of the unfortunate animal she cooked for us. She also made the most delicious Egg Custard Tart, one of favourites. She was a gentle lady who had two interests in life. One was being a member of St John Ambulance Brigade. This interest often meant her being sent to football matches or other public events ready to administer any medical help. She made us laugh once when she came home a little dissatisfied because her nursing skills were not required that particular night because no one was injured! Conversely another time she would exclaim the evening event was ‘Good tonight, lots of casualties’
Her second love was cooking and she liked nothing better than being in the kitchen cooking. This she did whilst chatting away to herself, happy as Larry (Lily sic) as she conjured up meals fit for a man. She was a spinster and having worked in service for many years she always considered men to be the masters in the house. This attitude of subservience to men which was quite normal then but now, rightly changed due to the long campaigns for women’s rights had no effect on Auntie Lily. As far as she was concerned she had a duty to provide Dad and I with meals fit for any man, nothing less would do.
Auntie Kate had a completely different persona. She had style, presence, very warm hearted with an easy going manner. Dad and I and the rest of the family all agreed that we couldn’t have had anyone better than these two wonderful ladies to help us all through the trauma of losing Mum.
We were also extremely lucky to have my eldest brother Bert and his wife Ethel still living in Greenford and therefore always on hand. My sister Lily and husband Jack were also not a million miles away in nearby South Ruislip. Bernard and David and their wives were further away but they all gave their support by visiting us and keeping in touch via the telephone.
Every Sunday my father, along with two neighbours, Lou and Harry would toddle off to the local Red Lion pub in Greenford for a well earned pint or three. When Dad returned, his inner self suitably replenished he would sit down with his two sisters to attack the lovely Sunday roast dinner, especially if it was the blade end of half a shoulder of lamb, lovingly prepared and cooked by Auntie Lily. As this weekly ritual usually didn’t start until about 2 o’clock Auntie Lily would serve my meal earlier which meant by the time Dad and his sisters sat down I would have finished eating mine and would be sitting relaxing and listening to their conversation at the table.
These occasions I remember with great fondness. Many times Dad would be holding forth on some subject close to his heart, probably politics. Emboldened by the amber nectar this weekly tête-à-têtes would, at times, be quite hilarious as Auntie Kate, being staunchly of the Conservative persuasion would differ from Dad’s Labour viewpoint and a friendly ‘argument’ would develop. Meanwhile throughout these political discussions Auntie Lily would be chunterring away in the background usually getting the wrong end of the stick and the two combatants would stop their debate and try to explain their respective points to her, without much success. Meanwhile I was doubled up with laughter listening to this pantomime of patter but thankfully it always ended up amicably and the three of them would sleep it off for the next hour or two until next week at least.
Dad continued his life as a printer working for Walter Phillips at his works in Perivale, a daily cycle journey Dad made in all weathers. I remember some stormy nights he would arrive home windswept and soaked from the torrential rain he had battled through. Those occasions are reminiscent of the night I was born when Dad faced similar atrocious weather conditions. The big difference now was cycling along the cycle lane on the lighted dual carriageway Western Avenue from Perivale to Greenford accompanied by cars and Lorries was a world away from the dark lonely winding deserted lanes of Bettws to fetch the midwife.
---End of Part Thirty Two--