My father was forty-six when I was born and since his two sisters were much older than him they and their families seemed irrelevant to me. Dad’s sister ,Hilda had married a Shetlands schoolmaster, Jack Peace, and rarely visited. Auntie Hilda sent really boring presents knitted with Shetland wool…a pair of socks etc. On her very rare visit I was spellbound since she was so exotic and striking with her abundant strawberry blonde wavy hair and air of authority. My father’s sister Ivy lived down the main street. She was married to Bill Jacques. Bill was angry and rough. When dad and I called in after church on Sundays we were invariably met with ,’Bugger off,’ from Bill. At home Ivy was generally referred to as, ’Poor Ivy.’ Bill and Ivy had two daughters who were so much older then me but when I met them years later I liked them both.
There was no contact with the Sturgess relations. When my Sturgess grandfather, William Henry, was mentioned it was always in passing and with my mother’s disapproving rapid intake of breath. The dark cloud that hung over his memory I later assumed was linked to his bankruptcy since in our family waste was a terrible sin. He died when my father was sixteen. Dad always insisted that he caught Pneumonia from sitting on the top deck of a tram rushing into Leicester to try and sort out his affairs. He also said that on his deathbed he sang ’Abide with me’ !
My father’s letters glow with warmth. I always knew he loved me but now I know that he didn’t protect me from my mother’s harshness The house revolved around mam and she kept a stern eye on him when he was with me…’Bill, you’re spoiling her,’ was a refrain and often his attention to me was clandestine.