Domestic Crisis ~ seventy years ago
Too late to start a new page tonight ~ as far as I know tomorrow is a quiet day so I should be able to catch up then ~ as I type it's raining quite hard so that's good for our gardens. In response to a rather anxious email Georgie rang me from work ~ she's not cross with me but has felt terribly tired these past few days ~ I do wish she could take early retirement ~ with her bloody Parkinson's she should be entitled to six months on full pay, six months on half pay, and having had a year off sick her insurance would take care of her mortgage, clearing it completely ~ I guess she knows how long she can carry on but I do worry about her, poor lass.
Thursday morning : For some reason this episode of our lives came into my head in the night and I kept going over and over it : how old would I have been ? How long was Mum in hospital ? How on earth did Daddy cope etc . . . by writing it here I may make sense of it. I should have got up and done it then at 2am ~ perhaps then I would have managed to get to sleep instead of eventually going down to make a drink and read for a while to clear it out of my head.
Between William and Helen, poor Mum had a miscarriage ~ fortunately the NHS was already established as she had to spend about six weeks in hospital, not one of Bristol's main hospitals, the BRI for instance, but one run by nuns specifically for 'women's problems' ~ ? St Catherine's possibly ? Whatever, it was up on the Downs and I think Dad took me to visit her once.
Right ~ David wouls have been 14 or 15 and at BGS ~ I must have been 12 or 13 I think and at Merrywood ~ both of us stayed home with Dad ~ but what of all the others ? Stephen and Nancy (6 and 7) spent a whole term in St Albans with Joy Anderson (Mother's sister) and her family, even enrolling in a local infants school. Mary was a year or two younger than Nancy and went to stay with a friends at Long Ashton. That left Wiliam,who was still a baby, scarcely a year old, and he went to Mrs Wallbridge an elderly friend of Mother's who had been a nanny or a nursery nurse ~ now whether one of us took William round to her in Jubilee Road before setting off for school OR did he stay with her ~ I can't remember ~ they must certainly have paid her for her help.
How the children all arrived at their temporary homes I don't know ~ did Aunt Joy come down by train to pack up enough clothes for Nancy and Stephen ? Or did Uncle William drive down to collect them ? And how did Daddy cope ? Even though there were only the three of us left at home, who did the washing and shopping and cooking ? I do remember helping in the kitchen, but he must have been in charge, of course ~ but the shopping ? I think in those days the shops would shut at 5pm and not only did Daddy have a full-time and demanding job as Secretary of Social Services in Bristol and the South West, but he must have fitted in visits to Mummy in hospital as often as possible. In addition, while the house was empty, he started on a frenzy of decorating, possibly to assuage his fears.
All this time, Mum was still haemoraging and, she told me years later, the nuns treated her with distaste (they probably treated all their patients like this : if you indulge in filthy sex, what else can you expect.) Then one day along with all the blood a foetus emerged on the bed and suddenly there was panic among the nuns wh had more or less been telling her to stop making such a fuss ~ not too long after this Mother was allowed home ~ because of this miscarriage, four years later when Helen came along they included OCTAVIA in her name to commemorate the lost baby ~ Helen Frances Octavia !
I suppose David and I helped as much as we could, but somebody must have been coming in to see to the washing ~ and get shopping ~ no washing machine, of course, and no fridge either. All I remember is feeling dreadfully dreadfully tired and sometimes squatting down in a corner of which ever room Dad was papering and simply falling asleep ~ it was possibly the stress ~ I wonder if any of the others remember those weeks ~ Stephen and Nancy might perhaps, and their months in St Albans. And David is dead.
Here are some of the things I can no longer do : hang washing out on the line ~ thinking back, this was one of my main activities ~ in the Buxton garde, the garden of Eccles School House, the Quarry Road garden and the steep ;ittle garden behind our North View terraced house. Oh, yes ~ and even up here on my own there has always been a load of washing to hang out ~ but nowadays I can neither carry a basket of wet clothes out to the garden (all of ten paces) nor reach up top peg it out in the sunshine ~ the end of my career as a washer woman. Nowadays I do the washing in the evening and hang everything on the clothes horse in the kitchen or on the Aga rail and by morning all is dry and ready to iron ~ on a fine breezy morning I feel a pang of loss ~ nothing like a line of washing blowing in the sunshine !
And I had to give up The Guardian a year or more ago ~ I simply could no longer read it ~ not even the headlines. And I can no longer read books ~ apart from those I can download onto my Kindle ~ here I am in a house full of books and I can't read any of them ! I wonder what will go next ?? Not to worry, my life is still pretty good in spite of these restrictions, so " mustn't grumble" as they say. [see www.joypeach.com entry 61 : Books Galore]