Some more about my father and his family.
My father was forty-six when I was born and since his two sisters were much older, when I was a child their families seemed irrelevant to me. Dad’s sister ,Hilda had married a Shetlands schoolmaster, Jack Peace, and rarely visited. She sent really boring presents knitted with Shetland wool…a pair of socks etc. However, on her very rare visits I was spellbound…such abundant strawberry- blonde hair and such authority. Nothing pleased her and my mother seethed with intense anxiety and resentment.
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 a ,’Bugger off,’ from Bill. At home Ivy was generally referred to as, ’Poor Ivy.’ Bill and Ivy had two daughters long since married.
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. I later assumed that the dark cloud that hung over his memory was linked to his bankruptcy; in our family waste was a terrible sin. He died when my father was sixteen. Dad always insisted that his father caught Pneumonia after sitting on the top deck of a tram during a storm, 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.