Postcards from before-1

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I once met a very interesting man, a Viking. I didn’t catch his first name, but his surname I did get. It means ’dwells in a valley.’ It’s my surname too; that’s quite a coincidence isn’t it? He came from a village called Auldhulme, ‘place of the alders.’ Pretty name for a place, don’t you think? Not much like the rather grimy industrial town of Oldham where I grew up. I can’t imagine it when it was a place of the alder trees.

I bumped into Sir Richard de Pembridge,the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, today. He’s a big favourite of the King, fought at the Battle of Poitiers. When he dies he’s going to be buried in Hereford Cathedral, with his own tomb and everything. Turns out that my maternal grandmother will be a direct descendant of his. What a small world this is.

A flying visit yesterday from Arthur, my maternal grandfather. A very quiet, unassuming, almost retiring, man. Hard to believe he fought in the trenches in WW1. I just can’t see it. He did tell me a very funny story though about a village cricket match where he got behind the ball with the meat of the bat and broke the clock on the pavilion. He’s such a small guy too, hardly anything of him. Nice though. I liked him. I thanked him for the genes that kept him, and me, with a full head of hair. He just smiled and said I had a bit to go before I was as white as him, but I had made a good start.

Brilliant day today! My maternal grandmother, Nana Platt, called round! She was born in 1900, brought up on a farm, can remember before electricity was widespread, flying round Blackpool Tower in a biplane. Farm life wasn’t for her. She became a photographer’s assistant, rather against the wishes of her family. That’s how she met Arthur. What a trouper. Good luck to her. And she’s the only person I know who gave up smoking on her 80th birthday. Glad she came round. I miss her.

Picked up some tips from my paternal grandfather on growing roses. I didn’t like to tell him that I wasn’t too fond of them; he loves them to death. I asked him if his given name really was Law. ‘Oh yes,’ he smiled, ‘I am the Law.’ Not a bad joke, and a really good name. I told him that Law was the inspiration for my character Blain, whose first name is Just. I think Law was pleased about that.

Great news. Today my mum graduated as a teacher. She’s wanted to do that for a long time. She’ll be really good at it. I asked her if she’d mind that I went to China for three weeks the day after she died. She said ‘No. The reason you’re going to go is because I was fascinated by the place. I’m going to be envious, and I’m sorry I won’t hold on long enough for you to tell me what you see.’

I had to go and see me today. I wasn’t well. I had measles, really badly. Spots in my ears, under my eyelids, down my throat. I couldn’t eat for days and days. Nobody was sure if I’d survive. I was only about 15 months old, but I could see I was scared. Everybody was. My mum cuddled me, didn’t sleep for days on end. Maybe that’s why I’m still here.

I met me again today, me at 18. I’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition. It’s not fatal, but apparently I’m going to carry some scar tissue for the rest of my life. I asked what the condition was. In layman’s terms, my heart has been broken. That doesn’t sound too good.

My father hasn’t bothered to contact me. Bloody typical.

2 thoughts on “Postcards from before-1”

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes said:

    Wow, born 1900. Imagine being born turn of the century.

    My Polish grandmother was born 1910. We look back and see what happened for a life – she had to survive the war, and you realise whatever year it is you are born into, you don’t know what the meaning will be.

    Enjoyed this – very, very interesting.

    Like the end too. I was just on the verge of asking you ‘scar from what?’ and you answered.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. I’m actually working on two parallel versions of my memoir/autobiography. One’s my usual knockabout, play it mainly for laughs, the other is based on the Postcards idea. Blame a couple of the members of my writing circle for that little dichotomy

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