‘Bonny Braeside’ is No 9 in a row of 1930’s semis, each with a strip of back garden leading down to the field. The houses are numbered No 5 -13. When I was growing up this row was sandwiched between some ancient cottages and The Plough Inn next to No 13. Most of the activity relevant to me was between No’s 5 and 9 because eleven children were born into these three houses. We called all the neighbours aunt and uncle, my parent’s close friends too.
Auntie Gwen and Uncle John lived in No 5. They had four children and were definitely a cut above us because Uncle John was a director where he worked. They possessed things, notably a car, a television and a telephone. I always felt not good enough in Auntie Gwen and Uncle John’s house. Years later Auntie Gwen announced with some surprise that I hadn’t turned out too badly. Auntie Gwen and Uncle John did take me out a lot because their daughter Elizabeth (Liz) and I were fairly close in age. I did love spending time at No 5.
Uncle Albert and Auntie Ethel lived next door at No 7 with their five children. Albert had a ferocious temper and because we shared a partition wall our family often froze in silence when he came home from work in a bad mood. When we were younger Chris and I took it in turns in shifts practicing the piano in the morning. Every second week I was on the half six early shift and always knew my time was up when I heard Albert coughing (he smoked). They too owned things but Auntie Ethel used the front room for hairdressing and always seemed to be busy. I liked their lower garden because it was overgrown and hence a great place for building fires. Liz and I played with Lesley the youngest and I was often not kind to her. Liz, Les and I were all youngest children but I was the eldest of the three and often chose Liz and left Les out…I think I was sometimes a bit of a bully.
The Taylors lived at No 11 and Auntie Win. moved in when they left. We never called the Taylors auntie and uncle. Mr Taylor was cross . One day after they left they invited us to see their new house in Nuneaton . On the journey to visit them I remember the slag heap gliding past the train window and an interminable afternoon. Auntie Win who replaced them had been my infant school teacher. We had to call her Auntie but I never warmed to her. She wore pebble glasses and I had been afraid of in school. She was sad and I think rather bitter. Three times she had been engaged during the First World War but her men were all killed.