I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had had the courage to share with my parents, especially my Mother, how hurt I was by how low down her priority list I seemed to have sunk by the time I started secondary school. She stopped paid employment in 1946 when she became pregnant and never started again. By the 1960s her twice weekly coffee-mornings, a “morning” that in practice lasted from 10:30AM to 3:30PM, were sacrosanct and nothing was ever allowed to interfere with her attendance. She used to say, only half in jest, that if she wasn’t there she would become the main topic of conversation. Add to the equation the drama group, the poetry group and the “I’m just slipping out to see Aunty Chris” and her week was comfortably busy. A shame that none of it ever involved me.
I used to devise my own entertainment, sometimes with school friends, sometimes on my own but school holidays always felt rather like living in B&B - with a landlady who wasn’t particularly welcoming and one who rather regretted being in the business at all.
The best example of my Mother’s approach to parenting was when I broke my arm at school. I would have been about 13. The school didn’t help by sending me home rather than taking me to the hospital in St Albans but when I did get home after a 2 mile walk, a train ride and then another 1 mile walk I was not in a very good state of health. Her response was to give me the bus fare to take myself to Luton and Dunstable Hospital (about 6 miles away) on the grounds that she had the poetry group meeting to attend!!
Dad worked up in London leaving the house by 7AM and getting back about 7PM so when I was little I hardly saw him during the week. The highlight of the family weekend was always a visit to the local library so you can see that I’m using highlight in the loosest sense of the word. We had a car and Mum and Dad both drove but we almost never went out anywhere as a family.
It was only once I met Claire’s family that I realised quite how non-existent my family life had been and how liberating going off to university had proved to be.