And what season is it? asks Julia.
The painting is called ‘The Last Day in the Old Home’. Through the window on its left, we can see leaves turning golden and brown and branches starting to bare. It’s Autumn. The answer’s Autumn. Pick me, Miss. Fifty years ago, I’d have stuck up my hand.
Aunty Elsie and Aunty Bess are giving me lessons on how to do The Twist. We twist down; we twist up again. Well, shake it up Baby now. There’s standing room only– no, twisting room only – in Aunty Vi’s lounge because The Family – Pa’s family, that is – certainly know how to throw a party.
“Do you have trouble cooking?”
“Yes?” Maria frowns, pen poised over ‘No’. I’d not reported trouble dressing, washing or cleaning. But cooking?
“Well ActorLaddie is such a good cook, you see. He’s a hard act to follow. Also, he does the shopping so he knows what we’ve got in the cupboard. If he’s out for the evening, by the time I’ve staggered in from school, I have terrible trouble cooking. It’s all I can do to make porridge.” Maria is looking perplexed, so I relent. “Tick ‘no’,” I tell her. “I can cook porridge.”
“I’m from Sicily,” Maria smiles. “Men don’t do cooking.”
100! What do they think I am? Dumb or something? Why, I make more money than – than – than Calvin Coolidge! Put together!
One of Pa’s cheques had bounced. The cheque in question was from his current account to his building society. The cheque in question apparently had his signature on it. The cheque in question had not been written by Pa.
Pa’s cheque book was still safely in the bureau and there were no obvious signs of a break-in. But both building society books were missing. Phone calls revealed that both accounts had been emptied.
“We seem to be heading for the station. Should I have brought my wallet?” asks Pa.
“Should I have changed? I don’t look very smart,” worries Ma.
They have been persuaded by LittleBro to go for a mystery trip in his car on the promise that “he has something he wants to show them.” You’d think they’d know better than to get in a car with a strange man.
“Surely that’s their son?” you cry. Indeed he is. Doesn’t stop him being strange. Probably explains it, in fact.
“Libby, did you want to share your news?” Libby puts down her hand, wades to the front of the carpet and faces her audience.
“I’ve got news about my mum and dad,” she announces.
“Is it happy news?” I ask. Some things are probably not best shared in show-and-tell.
“Yes it is. Sometimes, my mum takes all my dad’s clothes off and then she laughs. Any questions?”
In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, a trip to the pictures gave you much, much more than a main feature.
Not being quite as old as my class imagine, I don’t personally remember cinema-organists; although ActorLaddie had a great-uncle who, rather romantically, met his wife when they were both playing in the pit orchestra for a silent movie.
All I can offer in comparison is a very close relative who met her husband while bunking into a cinema. She was, apparently, the designated chump who paid for a ticket and then opened the back door for the others. She denies it now, of course, and claims they met in a coffee bar. But then she would, wouldn’t she?
I don’t remember anything about the film itself, though of course I have seen Dumbo again since then. The only memory of my first trip to the pictures is Pa trying to hurry me off the double-decker bus while I’m busy being travel sick over the conductor. So perhaps not the magical night he’d intended.
If only I’d had Dumbo’s feather, we could have flown home.
Until last summer, we lived at the end of a cul-de-sac. Beside our house was a small alley; backing onto this alley were garages belonging to the houses in the adjoining street.
When we moved in, the garage closest us belonged to a sweet old lady who’d owned her house since it was built in the thirties. She didn’t have a car but kept the paintwork looking nice: green and cream – probably the same as when she moved in. Continue reading →