4 Jul

Audrey, aged around 100 photo image2a_zpsbb5wqeii.jpgAudrey, Aged almost 100

As recently I’ve encouraged my mind to wander over the few remnants of my first few years that are actually somewhere inside my memory, snippets I suppose I’d almost forgotten begin to emerge as though from a fog. So although I thought I’d drained the well dry with my recent post regarding the decline of my mother and her subsequent death I find there are a few other snippets that might interest the odd passer by, the occasional seeker after details of another person’s life.

Back in the days when I was still a schoolboy (short grey trousers, white, possibly grubby off-white, shirt and scuffed knees) things were still fairly normal at home. True, most kids, my schoolmates and personal friends, had a dad around the house and I didn’t, but the difference between me and them wasn’t the quantum gap some might have us believe. That might have something to do with the when of my boyhood – the second world war had stolen dads from other kids, not that many, true, but a few. I was born in 1943, conceived that same year, and my father was based at home. I believe that’s how my parents met – he having been relocated to another part of the country as part of the war effort, though that may be purely my own rationalising of things because he was in a town away from where he’d lived when he met my mum. Anyway, he did meet my mum, they married and a decent time afterwards I came along, squawking.

Before being involved with him my mum must have lived a fairly normal life, holidaying in tents with her best friend whenever the opportunity presented itself, cycling on bicycles that would terrify modern-day professional cyclists. Then she met my dad and apparently she changed.

Let me say at the outset that I wasn’t around back then. It was pre-the birth of Peter! And, as I’ve said before, I have absolutely no recollection of anything to do with my father, having been very young when he shuffled off this mortal coil. And everything that I’ve put together is purely surmise and consequently possibly very wrong. But one day, when I was explaining my day at school (possibly 11 or 12 and still in those dreadful shorts) I said we’d been talking in class about debating. I must have introduced the word “argument” because at that my mum just about hit the ceiling. She told me in no uncertain terms that arguing was wrong, was bad, that it should never happen.

And I was confused because the English teacher had suggested that it was a worthy intellectual exercise during which views might be exchanged and new views formed. We were encouraged to debate, or argue, and subjects, within the classroom, were set up for just such a purpose. I can’t remember much about those lessons but I have a clear recollection of my mother’s horror when I told her about my English lessons and the need to argue.

Sixty years have passed. The good woman died half a century ago and consequently nothing I write now has any real meaning outside of the fantasy it may be. But what was it that made my mother so angry at the word “argument”?

Had her relationship with my father been so torrid that it affected her understanding of debates? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe it was as sweet and filled with light as mine is with my wonderful wife. Or maybe something between them gave her a fear of the whole idea that people might argue.

As I said, sixty years have passed by, and for some of that time I’ve mulled over that simple event – a schoolboy explaining a lesson at school to his mum! But if a reaction seems out of context when you’re young the chances are you don’t know enough about the context, and when the older generation have all passed away you’re never going to find out.

Which brings me to Audrey.

As I have said, my mum had a very good friend, Audrey, and when she died not so many years ago we (my wife, eldest daughter and I) went to her funeral. She had passed the century and was alert and bright right up to the end despite a deterioration in her hearing and eyesight.

Anyway, some of us called on her in the care home where she lived a year or so before her end. She couldn’t see very well and wasn’t quite sure who was who and but was willing to answer questions, but when the husband of her best friend, my dad, was mentioned, her response was unmistakable.

“Ha! Rogerson!” she exclaimed in the tone of voice that suggested that he had very little time for the man.

That’s all. Little clues that might lead me down a very wrong path, or very right one.

And my confusion is all down to questions I should have asked, but didn’t. To my mum, about arguing and to Audrey, more about my dad.

But I didn’t do the asking, and that’s that.

© Peter Rogerson 04.07.15


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