Along for the ride:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not all bad

It is funny how our perspectives change over the years. There are family stories that we grow up with and never question, until we do. I occasionally take a fresh look at something and see a very different version.
My Mother's family was from Cornwall in South West England. I was born there. I have many happy memories of summers with grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins.
Aside from the tourist and fishing industries there is not a lot going on, which of course is the main attraction. I never questioned as strange that my Uncle John was a Londoner or that he had many Cockney friends who had also moved to our town and owned a variety of businesses. The Young Lads of London were characters and added a splash of color and life to an otherwise preponderantly older community.
Uncle John owned the news-agents, candy shop and post office, his buddy owned The Globe, a freehold pub on the quay side. The third Lad hated to be introduced as "Roy from Toy-land" but he was at the helm of the toy store of that name.
John's wife, my Aunt Wendy was stylish, attractive and funny. I last saw her at my Dad's funeral and we went for a drink afterwards which is when John's name came up as she told a funny story.
Part of Uncle John's notoriety and the reason they were divorced was his roving eye for other women. I had no clue about this as it had all transpired when I was a young child. Their separation was a given fact, no questions asked.
Wendy told of an evening with her then husband. They had had a long and enjoyable day together with their two boys. They had brought home two enormous live Dungeness crabs to be cooked and prepared the next day. In the middle of the night Wendy realized that her husband had slipped out of bed and she heard the car door close as he drove away. "Damn him, off to make a house call to his latest Tart" she thought.
Next morning John was asleep beside her and she banged around in the kitchen in a serious snit until he woke up and had the audacity to ask her what was wrong. It turns out the big lummox had been unable to sleep out of guilt for the crabs. He had driven them to the beach in the dead of night and set them free.
I have my (recently aroused) suspicions about why and how a bunch of London Lads with some ready cash descended from the Metropolis to make lives for themselves in our backwater town. I am not sure what notoriety I might find if I decide to Google their names.
I do know that when my Aunt Wendy died a couple of years ago her ex-husband stepped up and took care of all the funeral details and was there for his two grown sons.


  1. This gives new meaning to someone going out at night and getting a case of crabs...

    Do share if you find out the truth of the underlying juicy story of ready cash...

  2. Once upon a time, in a land sadly still attached to another one, but divided by a stone wall and a wee hamlet by the name of Gretna Green, three or four raggamuffin type gents used to drive down to Manchester and relieve Securicor of their wage-run every Friday.

    No weapons were used, apart fae the heavy front end of a Ford Transit, and of course some iffy looking head gear. Some of these men spent their ill-gotten gains on drink, women, flash clothes, and even the odd Spanish holiday. Others though were meticulous with their share and squirreled it away for the future. ; )

    I never owned a post office, bar or a toy emporium personally. But I did rub shoulders with one or two people that probably did.

    You may well be surprised at just how many businesses got started with the help of these 'alternative bank loans'.

    And as for your man coming forward in times of need... it's called looking after your own.

  3. We didn't move down until 1981, around the time when there was already a palpable, antipathy in some local communities, towards 'them' from 'up-country'. However, many 'wide boys' from the metropolis were up against stiff competition in ducking and diving, from sections of a population with a rich past in recognising an opportunity when it presented itself.

  4. With the recent death of my grandfather I am going through hundreds of old photographs and discovering all sorts of things... connections, divisions, and a time before these existed. It's as you say, you accept everything as being just the way it is as a child. But as an adult we quest a little more for a true history.

  5. I just finished reading "Close To Home" by Peter Robinson and started rereading "A Place of Execution" by Val McDermid. I think that I recognized, at the very least, friends of your uncle's and his friends.

    Great post, ma chère!

  6. Terrific skeleton-in-the-closet story. ER - and the comments only added to the fun. What's interesting too is how the perception of wrongdoing changes with time, becoming something to laugh about.

  7. Deborah, It's always the comments that are the best part.

    Ms. Pliers, these little lights occasionally go off in my head, illuminating that which was dark to me although plain to see.

    Steve, a while back I wrote about the dentist my Mother subjected us to. An alcoholic who would drink swigs of liquor from time to time during our appointments. He was a neighbor and member of the same Country Club. Mum told it as a funny story. I only asked myself recently "What the Hell was she thinking?" Until then I thought it was funny too.

  8. Martin, Pirates of Penzance are no figment of the imagination, as you know.

    Jimmy, shades of Great Trains and Mr Briggs?

    Owen, the son of this union went on to represent gardening royalty for me. Head gardener at Kensington Palace after a stint with the Fayed family. I hate missing out on all this as a consequence to being so far away for so long.

  9. OK, I am, for one, glad the crabs went free. For once the man did the right unusual. *G*

  10. Oh, google their names~! Sometimes the stories are good and sometimes they change your opinion about someone but they are what they are and I always hate the idea of losing a little piece of the big story.

  11. Jean, Despite his inclinations.

    Happy Hour, I did try Google today but didn't anything good.(Asking a lot). A few obituaries of the same name. More chance of interrogating surviving Aunties on my next trip to England. I'll let you know if I find anything.

  12. Maybe, they were 'wide boys' but now it doesn't matter anymore.
    Keep them in your memory as colourful characters who enlivened your childhood.
    On the other hand they may have been as pure as the driven snow and simply loved the splendours of Cornwall and the fact that they could lord it over the locals?

  13. families huh? My Uncle Peter was never MY Uncle Peter - he was my dad's Uncle Peter, but we called him that anyway, i guess in the polite way that kids used to call any adult uncle and auntie even when there wasn't a blood relation. It's funny how things that happened in your family years ago can impact things around you even today

  14. I like the crabs story. It's a nice instance of "all's well that ends well". It ended well for everyone involved: your uncle John,his wife and the freed crabs.

  15. families!... they're great things... if only I had the balls to get one of them bank loans!
    :-) (and if only times were like they used to be!)