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War Memorial

It was a lovely day and since I'd been up Greengate Street finding out what I couldn't from the Park Leisure Centre website, I walked back home through the park proper. As I passed the cenotaph on top of its hill it occurred to me to have a look at the names on the plaque. And there he is, look! Fourth from the bottom, C Spry, lance-corporal in the Lancashire Fusiliers and my dad's elder brither, who was killed while serving in the Burma campaign in 1943. Obviously this was well before I was born. The only image I have is a photograph of him looking rakish in a bush hat, and a medal. Both are in the possession of my mother. My Grandma Spry had the same photograph on the mantlepiece.

It's not that my dad was a draft dodger. Far from it; he was eager to serve in the RAF (and in one of those hidden family surprises my mum has leaked out over the last few years, it turns out that dad was actually a qualified pilot. But he was needed as a key worker in the shipyard, as a skilled ship draughtsman, and had to stay at home and make do with the Home Guard. Not that this did anything to assuage bad family feeling. I have a suspicion that this is at leat one of the reasons why he needed to get away.
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A Momentous Day


Three people in a park in Solihull - me, my Mum and Mum's partner Eric.

The significance is that this is the first time in many years that my Mum has been happy to have her photo taken with me. Although we have been reconciled for quite a while, this completes the process.

The darker side of the day - I was down there to lend moral support, as Eric was on trial at Warwick Crown Court for assault on my Mum's nightmare neighbours. He looks like a wrong 'un, doesn't he! Young hoodlum! (I like him a lot, by the way)

Eric pleaded Not Guilty, M'Learned Friends had some lawyerly fun for a while, and the case was adjourned for three weeks, time and day to be announced.
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It was bound to happen sooner or later, there was no way I was going to keep my presence on the Island a secret from my relatives for long but who'd have thought my cover would be blown the way it was.

At about two o'clock, a woman who looked vaguely familiar walked into my office and said 'Don't you recognise me?' And I said, 'Julie! You're not here, you're in Australia!'

So I was found out, not by the cousin I knew to be living close to me, but by her younger sister, who I haven't seen for thirty years and who only returned from Oz a year ago. And now we're working together!
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Dexy's Midnight Runners topped the charts with Geno.

Hull Kingston Rovers beat Hull FC 10-5 in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

And me, I spent the day at Hedon Road Maternity Hospital in an all-but-deserted Hull, waiting for my daughter Karen to make her public debut. She wasn't in a hurry - she didn't decide to come out until 9.30 in the evening, and that was under duress. She liked it where she was. Sensible girl!

Happy twenty-sixth birthday, Karen!
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Let's hear it for my daughter, Karen!




(Thanks to the Worcester News)

Well well

Apr. 10th, 2006 09:50 am
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I didn't mention yesterday that I phoned my mum after I got home from the race. She was convinced I'd collapse and die if I took part.

And she said, with enthusiasm and without condition, "Well done!"

It's taken nearly fifty-two years, but we got there!
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On a more sombre note...

It's twenty-nine years ago today that my father died.

On the afternoon of Thursday, 3 March 1977 I was a physics teacher in Hull, and busy in my prep room when the internal phone rang. Would I go over to the Deputy Head's office.

The Deputy Head was on the phone to somebody when I got there. He was laughing and joking about something in his bluff Yorkshire way. And then when he'd finished he turned to me and put on the stage solemn look. "I've some bad news for you..." he said.

My parents were actually living in Reading at the time, funnily enough, after a two-year stay in Canada. I went home, threw some things into an overnight bag and caught the train to London - you could do that directly from Hull in those days, with a dining car, and in the circumstances I felt entitled to dine on a train for the first time in my life. I was chatting with the guy sitting opposite me in the dining car and it all felt very surreal, especially when he asked why I was going to Reading. Parents weren't supposed to die, they were supposed to go on for ever.

My dad had collapsed in Wokingham district and was taken to Battle Hospital in Reading where he was dead on arrival. I spent much of the following day ferrying my mum between the Wokingham and Reading registrars, neither of whom would accept that my dad had died on their patch. Idiots!

I don't suppose this has any connection with the urge, two years ago, to give up smoking - it didn't register with me at the time - but it's nice to think so, especially as it was heavy smoking of Player's Navy Cut over many years that did for my dad.

Round about this time of year, too, I lost two close men friends. Four years ago we lost Charles Hankel and two years ago Frank Bentley vanished from the radar. Both men died alone; neither were found for some time; and no date can be put on their deaths. Both ranked amongst life's natural gentlemen, as did my dad. All three were passionate Liverpool supporters. All three enriched the world. All three are being sadly missed by me today.

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