Mum’s Story- Page 10.
There came the time when another baby was due and this time I was twelve and was sent to my Auntie Marion’s. Marion was a paternal great-aunt, a sister of Flo, Alice (my Grannie) and Edie, and she lived at Draper’s Cottages, Mill Hill (at that time a village in the country, it seemed to me). I remember finding wood anemones in the nearby country and being thrilled by the discovery. I was also asked by Marion if I washed under my arms which 1 did not, having been brought up to wash my face and hands in the morning. She informed me I should or I would smell and although I received the information docilely enough I resented what I thought might be implied criticism of my Mother’s upbringing, and was angry that she should have exceeded her duties in my regard, as I thought. Aunt Marion would tell of her daughter who was given similar advice when quite a tot and replied
“No, I won’t! I’se cleaner than you” which secretly rejoiced me!
The baby was duly born (breech birth) and I remember Mother had to be away at a nursing home up Crouch Hill for this birth; and was to rest a lot after so that Brian and I did chores at home a bit then. Brian once made some dumplings — I believe he had some skill as a cook! Mother asked him how he got them so round and he said
“I rolled them in my hands”. Mother was a little put off thinking of them being rolled around in his sticky little paws! However we ate them all right. I learnt to darn my black school stockings, threading the needle with far too long a thread and nearly sticking somebody’s eye out as I pulled it through each time.
So now there were four of us, with our new little baby brother Roy Michael Louis. The last name was after a Father Friess who was coming home from missions abroad, and for this the Baptism was put off. I was afraid my brother might get ill and die before baptism and begged them to hurry up and not wait for his intended godfather. Brian and I were godparents in the end, and I think that Father Friess did not return in time. It was lovely to have a little brother and to be 12, and 1 really loved little Roy, with his big brown eyes and gentle ways. I was only with him 5 years as when I was seventeen I left home practically for good.
Sam dropped out of my life about this time. One day 1 was told that he had gone away to a boarding school and was thinking of being a priest. He went to Datchet, but not for long. At 15 years of age his elder brother Vic died, his Father died a month later and his mother was left without means of support and became ill. The home was sold up, Sam had to leave school at 15 (and Cyril his elder brother at 16) and try to find work. A tough beginning for any lad.
We were very fortunate in going to the seaside most years, and when I was eleven (maybe) we went to Hunstanton. It was here that there was a bridge over the railway (no longer in existence) and, running down the steps of the bridge the other side I lost my footing and fell. It was after that that I used to feel a pain in the middle of my back when I awoke, but it wasn’t till years later that I connected the fall with the back-aches I had after 1 grew up and was married. The pain was not bad enough to speak about and nobody would have known what it was anyway!
At Hunstanton we met another family called the Hughes with their two children Vivian and Gwyneth. They were saving up to move to a house near Croydon and they fired my mother with the ambition to buy a house too, so that she began to make many little economies — the chief of which I remember was using firelighters made from newspaper, rolled and twisted in a particular way. It was our job to keep the firelighter box filled, ready for fires in the winter.