Friday, September 28, 2012

1979: A lovely time

It must have been hard for them. Once with a grand house first in the poshest bit in town, then in the Midlands but now downsized to a tiny Barrett home on a small development alongside the new M27, just like that bungalow Rita Tushingham wins in Smashing Time. Motorway Mansions the postman called it, but to my aunt and uncle and my two older cousins, this was home.

Now living in reduced circumstances due to a court case that ended up not going their way they were making the best of it. And here we were, Christmas 1979, sense of humour still intact and Daytrip To Bangor never off the stereo and around the top of the charts thanks to a push by middle-class musical tastemaker Terry Wogan, surrounded by the old trappings of their previous life. Big clocks, chunky old furniture, chandeliers, the legendary (to us) Rolls Royce with gold-painted Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet, all so incongruous behind and in front of the net curtains.

But they vowed to get it all back. That house they lived in from 1969 to 1977, the favourite one in the plush part of the outskirts of the city where they'd always been so happy? They'd live there again, they were sure of it.

As ghastly and as showy and as flashy and vulgar and tactless and ridiculed as they were capable of being, they seat about picking themselves up, with held their heads held high among their snickering friends who'd been dying to see them fall, and started all over again. And lo and behold but within five years they were back in that house, (by way of a short stint in Hamble on the Solent, which is why we were not in the least bit surprised to open the Sunday paper one day to see a full article about my aunt and how she claimed she'd created Howard's Way and the BBC had stolen her idea).

So in that favourite house they stayed. Children moved on, dogs remained. It never went wrong for them again, really. They sold their business in the late Nineties and didn't have to work again. Their pleasures were early morning G&Ts in bed, rather than a cup of tea like normal folk, though mum and dad, not huge fans despite being related were irritated by them. Those photos of Uncle shaking hands with the Queen and Maggie Thatcher, along with the shooting, hushing up of backgrounds and beyond Daily Mail views, plus the ring of steel around their own family secrets (more court cases, death of a motorcyclist, hair loss, helicopter crash, what DID older cousin actually do for a living?) didn't endear them to anyone. 

They remained secretive to the end. Well, she's still alive but he's long gone. We're not as close as perhaps we should be. They were alawys good to me and I was fond of them in my own way. They could be silly and laughable but they could care less. Champagne was opened at every possibility.

However, whenever I hear this song I am reminded that anything is possible. Doesn't matter who you are or what you do, if you have the drive, you can do it.

I'm going into life coaching.


  1. What a fantastic story! Part of me wants to know more, but part of me thinks it's perfect just the way it is.

  2. I love this post. Such an intriguing story, and wonderfully told.

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