“Work wonders and S**t cucumbers!”

Descend

It seems that Sylvie and Larry had always had a somewhat tempestuous relationship. They had always argued, shouted and swore at each other. Then eventually, they would make up, they would go off on holiday together and then things would seem OK for a while.

Gradually, it seemed to worsen and they appeared resentful of each other, they argued more, wouldn’t speak to each other, and tension constantly hung in the air. Sylvie would talk disparagingly about Larry, openly using terms such as, “He’s a fat, lazy B*****d!”, often when he was within earshot.

For a long time Larry didn’t work due to his arthritis and his sickness benefit didn’t amount to much. This obviously impacted on the upkeep of the home. “He’s about as much use as a chocolate f*****g teapot, ” would commonly be heard whenever Sylvie was annoyed or had a another bill to pay.

Larry would occasionally attempt some sort of DIY,  but invariably, it didn’t get completed or would even make things worse. Time and time again I can recall Sylvie’s shouting and swearing, adding “F*****g typical of him, going to ‘work wonders and shit bleeding cucumbers’, he reckoned. Look at the bleeding mess he’s left again; worse that when he f*****g well started!

As tense as things were at these times, Sylvie’s many phrases and the way they just spilled out of her, would always have us all laughing. However angry Sylvie was, she would delight in our amused responses, continuing to swear and come out with more of her sayings, laughing to herself along the way.

Over time, and so slowly I didn’t notice it then, things were changing. Looking back, it seems that things were slowly winding down within the house. Sylvie’s son Christian and his friend, the lodger, were long gone, and Lily, who was now in her mid to late twenties, was living her own life more and more. Her life working in the nightclubs, her social life and her many love affairs were gradually taking over.  The monopoly that Sylvie seemed to have had on her previously was evaporating.

The dog grooming was still going on but on a much lesser scale, and the dog breeding and boarding had all but ceased. The financial impact was obvious in many ways, but none of it occurred to me at the time.

Over the years, slowly and gradually, everything started to descend.  The house started to become jaded; the investment put into it ten years previously was worn away with time. The carpets became faded and worn, the decor dated and aged, cupboards falling apart and windows old and rotting.

The house was permeated with the smell of dogs.  Years of grooming, breeding and caring for them, had caused the odour to become ingrained into the wallpaper, the furniture and the carpets. As well as the dog aroma,  was the ever present whiff in air of the Larry’s cigarettes and pipe tobacco, which had also caused yellow staining to the walls and ceilings of the main living rooms.

Any jobs that needed tackling were immense in labour or finance. It seems that there simply wasn’t the money, the capability or the inclination any more.

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Notorious – ‘A Meat Market.’

Notorious

Among the women who traveled to RAF Alconbury regularly each week, for some time in the early to mid-sixties, was my adopted mother, Sylvie.  Seeking some excitement and glamour away from her typical working –class lifestyle, she would often travel with her long-time friend, Josie, who lived close to Sylvie on a large council estate.

During the early 1960’s, The Airman’s Club at  RAF Alconbury became known as the ‘Aquarius Club’ , and  was said to be one of the best nightclubs in the UK. Every week on Friday and Saturday evenings, two to three coach loads of women, mainly from Huntingdon, but also from the outlying areas, would make the trip to the airbase to socialise with the airmen.

They were able to make this journey for the affordable sum of fifty pence for the round bus trip. Doubtless many had romantic notions of handsome American Air Force men, who would whisk them off their feet, marry them and take them away to the USA.

Some regulars made the trip every weekend,  but most weeks would see several new faces appear, enticed by their friends with promises of romance and excitement. This was despite the fact that the ratio of women to men was two to one at weekends. For this reason the club became notorious, as many saw this as a ‘meat market’ with women freely available, and making them ‘easy pickings.’

The Aquarius Club became extremely popular, and every weekend there was standing room only.  Most of the people there were in their twenties but there were some groups of slightly older members in their early and mid-thirties.

They went along to enjoy the atmosphere, music and dancing, to indulge in cocktails and pizza, and to play the slot machines. Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction would have been the chance to enjoy the company of the opposite sex.

Many did go on to meet their future spouses and make the move to the USA and some US airmen married and remained in the UK.

For many though, the attraction dwindled over time, and for many there were illicit affairs, on either side, leading frequently to heartache. The result for some women was to be abandoned with an illegitimate child, the father long gone back to the USA , and no chance of tracing him, the repercussions of this extending for generations.

One Lovely Blog Award.

 

One Lovely Blogger Award.

Many thanks to https://bookmeetsgirlblog.com  and to https://smellthecoffeeweb.blog  for nominating me!

Do check out both blogs; they are both wonderful to read and are great inspirations, both as writers and as the people who write them!

Thank both for your comments and tremendous support. xxx

Rules:

Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
Must add 7 facts about themselves.
Nominate  (up to) 15 people to do the award!
7 Facts About Me:

1). I am remaining anonymous to protect some of the people involved in my story.

2). I live in the countryside with my husband, three children, a large dog, a cat and chickens.

3). I am an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and have worked in nursing since the age of 17.

4). I have never been able to afford not to work and,  although I love my work, my ambition is to be a housewife!

5). I love my garden and gardening, home making and cooking.

6). I only started blogging a few months ago as a away of telling my story; the laughter, the tears, the memories and the legacies I have been left with.

7). I met my real father for the first time the age of thirty. We have been in close contact ever since.

Blogs I would like to nominate are:

1). https://arousedblog.wordpress.com

2). https://dreamdesireachieve.com

3). https://www.mumsthewordblog.com

4). https://writtenbyresh.com

5). https://carolyndenniswillingham.com

6).https://beadoersite.wordpress.com

7).https://beadoersite.wordpress.com

8).https://notestowomen.wordpress.com

 

Many thanks to you all! xxx

The Coal Man had Called In!

Qualm

My natural mother’s sister, Bessie, was very much like Sylvie in that she liked to talk, and so the conversation flowed once they started chatting.

Having become friends, Bessie sometimes visited Sylvie at home. It was on one of these visits that Sylvie was wearing a white skirt. As she turned around to put the kettle on, Bessie noticed black hand marks on each buttock of the skirt.

“Sylvie, what on earth have you done to your skirt?” she said. Sylvie looked down and without a hint of a qualm, just laughed, saying, “Oh nothing, that was Nutty Slack, the coal man, he just called in!”

Bessie had told me this story as one of her memories of Sylvie and I was unsure if it was completely accurate. When I repeated it to Sylvie’s older daughters they burst out laughing and straight away confirmed it.  On seeing my face, they added,  in between fits of laughter, that it had always been well known, gossiped about, and absolutely typical of Sylvie.

Not that she had any qualms!

A Collaboration of Personalities.

Collaboration

When I look back and think about life in Sylvie’s house up until shortly after my adoption, it could almost be considered normal in comparison to the way life changed in the years following.

Prior to this time, the household had been running fairly ‘normally.’ Stan (Sylvie’s first husband) went to work, the kids went to school, Sylvie kept a clean house and nice garden. Even the rumors regarding Sylvie’s involvement with other men were brazened out by Sylvie.  The kids had always been used to hearing stuff , it didn’t really phase them, even gave them cause to giggle about it at times.

Added to that,  Sylvie’s eldest daughter, Gina,  was as strong headed and acid tongued as her mother and woe betide anyone that dared to say anything disparaging within her earshot.

When the trips to RAF Alconbury and other nights out had started, the older kids looked after the younger ones,  and although they were made to help keep the house spick and span, they lived life pretty much as all the other kids on the estate.

The state of their parent’s marriage was something they had lived with for years and it had become the norm. This was not unheard of at that time among many of their friends and families, divorce often not being an option, husbands and wives forced to continue in unhappy marriages and stay living together.

True, there were some stories of Sylvie’s frequent tongue lashings; it wasn’t unusual for them to receive the odd ‘walloping,’ including the time when Sylvie chased her eleven year old son along the street, banging him about the head with a frying pan and screaming, “Come here you little b*****d, I’ll knock your bleeding brains out when I get hold of you!”

For the most part, life just trundled on, but things were to change when Sylvie got together with new love, Larry. By the time my adoption was finalized, Sylvie was already pregnant with his child.

I’ve no idea how they met, which is strange considering the details of so many other things I know about. He had been married with two sons, the youngest not much older than me, and so it is possible that he was still with his wife at the time he met Sylvie.

Larry’s presence meant that certain changes had to take place, and whilst I do not blame him solely for the impact this had on the family, many events were triggered directly due to his appearance in our lives.

The collaboration of Sylvie’s complex personality, Larry’s selfish dominance and their handling of situations proved to be the start of immense disruption and changes;

Changes that caused ripples and knock on effects, extending outwards and cascading endlessly, over many years.

Dolly F*****g Daydream!

Hospitality

I had first started staying with Sylvie and her family around mid-to late 1966. My adoption was handled as a private one, and although dealt with through the courts, it did require a social services report.  After I had been living with Sylvie for about ten months, a social worker visited on a few occasions, and a report was duly produced for the court, giving its recommendations  in regard to my future.

Sylvie resented this social services input, the visits to her home and the fact that she had to toe the line. With her greasy hair, baggy clothes and Jesus sandals, the social worker Jane was something of Hippie type. Sylvie always described Jane as “Dolly f*****g daydream! I never saw such a scruffy looking f****r in all my life!”

For the visits Sylvie had obviously schemed and worked her magic, displaying  great hospitality and creating the right impression.  The house was scrubbed and polished from top to bottom, the best china tea set making a rare appearance, and the home made cakes offered. Stan had been made to have a bath and to shave, ordered into a clean shirt and a tie, the kids into their Sundays best, with their hairs brushed and gleaming. All of them had been given stern warnings about what to say and how to behave.

Having been bathed and dressed in my finest, I was placed in the garden in the Silver Cross pram, to get some healthy fresh air, as was considered best at that time. However, this was the one time that Sylvie’s treasured pram was not to serve her as well as she had planned.

Jane had arrived, this time to finalise the report, and after offers of tea and cake and polite chat, she had requested to see me. Sylvie happily led her through the kitchen, but looking through the window to the pram at the bottom of the garden, she let out a scream, “Oh my god, where is she?” and flew out of the door and down the garden.

On reaching the pram she was able to see me plonked down in the bottom of the deep well of the pram, playing with my feet. “You little git!” she uttered. Whilst the social worker and Sylvie’s daughters had hesitated, surprised by Sylvie’s sudden flight down the garden, it took them a few moments to follow her.

By the time they had caught up with Sylvie and came into earshot, the words ‘you little git’ had magically transformed into a sweet “Oh you little angel, you gave me such a fright.”

The carriage body of the pram had a deep well, with boards that slotted over the cavity, to provide a base for the mattress. I somehow had been able to get my fingers under the boards and remove them, meaning that I dropped down into the well and out of sight. Along with the blankets, sheets and pillows, the boards were strewn on the lawn where I had discarded them, ruining the image that Sylvie had wanted to present of me beautifully bedecked in the lovely pram.

Jane had picked up the boards and questioned the safety of the pram. Reassuring Jane that she would get Stan to fix it, Sylvie turned her back to her and said through gritted teeth to the girls, “Could you please ask your father to look at the pram for me,” in the sweetest voice she was able to manage.

Quickly realising she needed to rescue the situation, Sylvie turned on the charm. Leading Jane back into the house she commented, “Jane you do look lovely today, is that a new skirt you’re wearing?”  whilst secretly grimacing at the bright orange, frayed hem and ankle length hippie type garment.

Jane had apparently lapped up this, and several other compliments, that Sylvie bestowed upon her. Sylvie found this hilarious and would often declare, “The dozy mare, she lapped it up. Nice skirt my arse! F**k me! I’ve seen better dressed scarecrows,” Or another favourite was, “I wouldn’t have used that bleeding skirt to wipe my arse!”

A Final Belief.

Final

At RAF Alconbury, Pam ( my natural mother), was to meet Grant, a young US airman of the same age. Having fallen in love, it was not long before long Pam was pregnant and so they were making plans to marry. Soon after my birth, and with the evidence of the presence of another man, the relationship crumbled. Pam was left alone with little support and struggling to cope as a single mother.

Sylvie learned of Pam’s struggles, and despite already having four children of her own and an empty, disintegrating marriage, she offered to care for the baby for a while. The arrangement was to become a permanent one, leading to a private and somewhat strange adoption, involving deceit and untruths regarding the situation of my adoptive parents to be.

It was the start of a complicated and chaotic life, eventually within a family of eight children, and at many times various others in the house, including nephews, nieces, cousins and even lodgers. There was hard work, tears and abuse but also love, immense laughter and enduring relationships, that provide a rich tapestry of memories.

The eventual search for my natural family, and for answers to the thousands of questions stored up over the years,  has resulted in a combination of heartache and happiness, revelations and surprise, reunions and first meetings. It has answered some questions but raised many others.

Ultimately, it has provided me with a history, unbreakable blood ties, and importantly, a final belief that I am not purely defined by my status of ‘the adopted one’.