Chuckle – ‘living over the brush.’


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A couple of years after moving into the house, Sylvia and Larry were married. I was only about seven but I recall conversations about Stan and I have the feeling he had held up Sylvie’s divorce. I don’t know if he had actively opposed it or whether he simply didn’t bother to respond to solicitor’s letters or any attempts to get it sorted. It was the early seventies and divorce was still a lot less straight forward than today. I do know that Stan wasn’t seen by us for many years. Sylvie would remind us many times that Stan, “Never paid a bleeding penny of maintenance!” All of us had already been given Larry’s surname right from the start. It was the family name we all became known by and were all to use.

“Living over the brush” – a term that Sylvie always used and would always make me chuckle inside, it sounded such a silly phrase.  Being unmarried with children was something Sylvie obviously wasn’t happy with and as soon as the divorce was finalised, she and Larry made the necessary arrangements. It seems hard to believe in this day and age but at the time Sylvie was obviously conscious of not being married to Larry and this fact was kept from their two children, Sally and Lizzie, at the time.

The marriage took place at the Registry Office in the town and Sylvie made a big deal about her outfit, spending a lot of money on a beautifully made suit and matching hat. Lily attended with her then boyfriend, I’m not sure about Gina or Bridget and I know I didn’t go; I stayed at home with a neighbour to greet people when they returned to the house for the party afterwards. Sally and Lizzie knew nothing about the wedding and went to school as normal, only to be collected by Lily and her boyfriend and bought back to the party later. They were only young and so I don’t know if they were told about the wedding or if they just thought it was a party and a house full of people.

The house was full of people everywhere and there were mountains of food and copious amounts of alcohol. Everyone seemed to have a good time, the celebrations went on late into the night and Sylvie and Larry seemed happy to be married.

Sylvie and Larry’s eldest child, Sally, took after her father, tall and dark and had striking looks. She was extremely pretty with a head of long dark ringlets, deep brown eyes and long lashes. Larry doted on her and, in his eyes, she could do no wrong. Their last daughter, Lizzie, was more similar to Sylvie, smaller in height, fair haired and paler eyes. In the same way Larry doted on Sally, Lizzie was always Sylvie’s ‘golden child,’ not only between the two children that she and Larry had together but among all of her children.

Each would stand up for their favourite and apportion blame elsewhere when the child did something wrong, resulting in disputes between them. I would often become the target of blame; it was easy to shift the wrong doing my way and deflect it from either of their favourites. I cannot truthfully say that I was always innocent of whatever misdemeanour, but I was no more often guilty than any other normal child would be.

Life was becoming harder. As well as being the target of blame much of the time, especially from Larry, the dog grooming business was increasing and I was often kept at home to help. We were all allotted certain jobs in the house but increasingly these seemed to become my responsibility. However much I would try to object or reason that it wasn’t fair, I would be quietened, told to shut my mouth and that from now on, whatever it was, it was my job. If I objected further, I would suffer the physical repercussions.


6 thoughts on “Chuckle – ‘living over the brush.’

  1. As the black sheep = not favourite, I was also unreasonably apportioned all the blame. We all had jobs but I was the only one made to do them … Yet my parents always believed they were being fair? They gave me the strength to be who I am today

    Liked by 1 person

      1. fortunately, as I have grown up it as not affected me so much as I am able to look back on it and understand things better, I also still have a close relationship with my siblings and we are able to talk about our parents, the events that went on and it we are united in our memories of it all. the story is quite complicated and not the usual sort of adoption, my previous blogs can tell you more if you go back through them if you were interested. thank you x


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