Memories of Childhood – 1. Aunts and Uncles….

Sunday 24th January

I grew up surrounded by Aunts and Uncles, inundated with them really.  Of course they weren’t all real Aunts and Uncles; many were my mother’s, her mother was one of ten and all of them became my Aunts and Uncles too.  My only real Aunts were Auntie Pam, Mum’s sister and Aunt Anne, my Dad’s Brother’s wife.  But even on my Dad’s side we had Great Aunt Ida and the relatives from Great Yarmouth where Dad’s Dad came from – and they all became Aunts and Uncles too.  On Mum’s side my favourites were Uncle Pow (don’t know how he got the nickname) and Auntie Ruby, who was a perpetual invalid as she was diabetic and Uncle Pow had to give her an injection every day (of course I never witnessed this operation and it was always shrouded in mystery, I imagined Ruby would die in a minute if she didn’t get her injection).  They were what I thought of as Middle Class, definitely a bit posh, even though they too lived in a council house.  My other favourite was Auntie Dorothy and her husband Phillip (who was a ‘linesman for the county’ – though it was far less romantic then Glen Campbell sung about).  Auntie Dorothy had about eight children herself and most of them were girls – Joan, Joyce, Julia, Janice and Jane; imagine the arguments when a letter arrived for Miss J. Duncan.  Their house was often chaotic with various items of female underwear drying in front of the fire which excited a young teenage boy’s imagination.

But in a funny way my favourite Aunt and Uncle were not related in any way at all.  Auntie Betty and Uncle Bob lived out of town in a tiny hamlet called Onehouse and had two adopted children, Rebecca who had a paralysed half of her face and Kim, an olive skinned boy a few years younger than me.  They also had two large black standard poodles and a few cats.  Aunt Betty was a great cook and whenever we went for Sunday afternoon tea she would bring out plate after plate of delicious home-made cakes and implore me to eat them, which I would despite my mother’s eye on me warning me not to be greedy.  Uncle Bob made marquetry pictures of various coloured woods and they were both always so welcoming to me and my sister.  Auntie Betty used to line me up with a whole string of customers for bob-a-job week and two years running I collected the most money thanks mainly to Auntie Betty.

I am not so sure if today’s children will grow up in such a warm and loving cloud of Aunts and Uncles.