Having returned home …🌏

Tuesday 5 June

Having returned home from Moss Bros it was time to get ready for the funeral. My Auntie Doris, Auntie Da Da, as we used to call her, had been in a nursing home and due to ill health confined to her bed. Doris was Mum’s older sister by a few years. To my shame I hadn’t seen Doris for many, many years and her husband, Uncle Reg, passed away some years ago. I rember Doris as a country girl with a strong country accent, much harsher than my Mums. Its funny as you look back what you remember. For example my birthday is 28 December and I knew that at every Christmas as Doris gave me my present and wished me merry Christmas it would be accompanied with the words “…and it includes your birthday present!” What a cop out.

I remember Uncle Reg fondly, although as a small boy I wasn’t impressed with his humour. I would make tea when they came round to visit and would hold the teapot high. Reg asked “is that a long pour?” and I raise my eyes to heaven. Looking back I realise it was my ignorance and in fact he was a nice man. He was a well known amateur motorbike racer, but unfortunately had a very bad accident at work which put paid to his motorbike days. He always wore mustard coloured socks and brown shoes like a trademark. The most amusing thing we all remember is the Summer Mum started to host foreign students who would come over from Europe to study English. Mum did this for many, many years and students came from all over the world. She was probably one of the finest hosts in Bournemouth. But the very first students were two very young and very pretty Swedish girls. Both blonde of course. For some reason they didn’t go to the beach, but would strip down to their bikinis and sunbathe in the garden. As is common in most households when close family visit we just sat in the kitchen and chatted. Uncle reg would steal this opportunity to place a chair by the kitchen window and just stare at the girls. Strange behaviour my 9 year old mind thought, but as I got older I began to realise what may have been going through his mind!

Sarah and I headed for Poole Crematorium. The previous funeral ceremony was running late. I guess they weren’t running, thats why they were late! So lots of people waiting around. It was a very small affair, Very close family and friends. Some I knew well, some I knew, some I didn’t know. There were also people, in fact family, that I thought I should know better, but didn’t Some that I should have spoken to, but didn’t. It seemed Sarah knew them better than me! My Cousin Kevin, the single inheritant of the Pollard fortune, because he was an only child came over to say hello. Kim and I always called him “Cousin Kevin”. His name is Kevin and he is a cousin, so it only seemed right, but in fact it was odd because we said CousinKevin as if it was one word. Now I think about it I was CousinDavid and my sister CousinKim. I can understand CousinKim in order to distinguish between her and the “Fur Baby” of Doris and Reg, Kim the dog! A wild thing that they locked in a room all day which sent it a bit mad. I don’t know who came first the dog or Kim. Either way it was either insensitive of Doris or absent minded of Mum and Dad.

As numbers were low Kevin asked if I would be a pallbearer and help carry the coffin. I reluctantly nodded. I was stood next to Ged, my sisters husband who also wasn’t keen, but as we gathered near the hearse and the funeral director started organising things I stepped back and stood behind Ged who was then in the spotlight for the job!

The eulogy briefly summarised the life of Aunty Doris, her long standing loyalty to her work, the fun Reg and her had Caravanning and the friends that they made. A picture was built of a woman that I realised I didn’t know. But we were reminded how Doris and my Mum ended up in Bournemouth in the first place. My grandfather who I called Poppy, had a dream of emigrating to Brisbane in Australia. The family had packed up and moved from Braintree in Middlesex with the idea of stopping off in Bournemouth before sailing to the other side of the world. But Poppy loved Bournemouth so much they stayed. Its funny how all those years later I fulfilled a little bit of destiny when Sarah and I ended up living in Brisbane.

The Wake was a sort of village hall “Do” …sandwiches and cake with a few pies. Tea, coffee or some sort of cordial to wash it down. Doris had a favourite drink … Baileys, so we Toasted with that and CousinKevin said a few words. Then it was all over.

Wednesday 6 June

I return to Moss Bros in Bournemouth and park right outside the shop in Westover Road. At one time Westover Road was the premier road in Bournemouth. Where all the top shops were located. It was like little Bond Street. There were 3 cimemas, the Palace Court Hotel Casino, the Ice-rink … as well as the Tufty Club. All gone now. A recent casualty, the Odeon cinema is now boarded up. Other shops have closed and the infamous Russell and Bromley will be closing their doors soon. It feels empty. Souless. Men linger intimately in groups. Smoking. Chatting. Looking. Along the road there is the occasional person sleeping in vacant shop doorways. The entirety of their worldly belongings with them. One with a cup held out to passers-by. It is an oxymoron as a smartly dressed bodyguard stands proudly outside one of the jewellers. It is a testiment to the world we now live in and a showcase to opulence and poverty. Like oil and water they don’t mix. This is not the Bournemouth I knew as a boy. It is not the Bournemouth I want to remember.

I didn’t have enough coins for the parking meter, but on studying the instructions I can pay by phone if I download the “PaybyPhone”App. For fun I do that and it works brilliantly. The app locates where I am. I can even upload a photo to prove where I am and with a click my parking is paid for. Another useful app that allows you to spend money too quickly!

Every morning and evening I do my walk. I picked up the route that I worked out last year. I play a game and when in the shadows I jog. On Thursday evening my ankle felt stiff. I was power walking. By Friday morning it was stiff and painful. Very painful. So much so that on Saturday Nurse Sarah purchased an ankle strap to bandage around the swelling. I had lunch with Mum and Kim at the Boathouse in Christchurch. Me hobbling, Mum in her wheelchair.

It wasn’t looking good.

Until next time🌏

Bright eyed and …🌏

Bright eyed and bushy-tailed I awake to the new day. Clearly Bournemouth hasn’t received the message that it is Summer. We have been told of hot, steamy and balmy days in the sun here recently, but there is no evidence of it. Perhaps the world’s weather is changing. When I was a boy I remember long hot summers. They were almost guaranteed. Now it seems to be a bit of a lotto. During the breaks from my incarceration at school I would help my “honorary” uncle Donald with the boats on Bournemouth beach. He had a site almost level with the East Cliff Zig Zag near the cliff lifts. The lifts are closed now due to land slippage, but they hope to open next year. Don lived next door with his younger brother James and their parents auntie Alice and uncle Max. Salt of the earth people who were Canadians. Everything about them was big. They were big, their fridge was big and Max was loud. In fact Max was very loud. One of the loudest things he did every day as he came through the back gate towards the front gate was to reach into the depths of his respiratory passage making a noise like an elephant and then spit the large piece of phlegm from his mouth as if in an olympic event. A real character who rode a motorbike. Unfortunately he was involved in a very bad accident which gave him a permanent limp, but also with the compensation allowed him to buy a brand new Austin 1100 that he drove as if fueled by kangaroo petrol. I can’t remember much about Max other than his political incorrectness and that fact on one occasion he had to go to hospital to get a cylindrical Hoover delicately removed from his manhood.

The house smelt of staleness and cooked fish. Dear auntie Alice didn’t have cleaning as her top priority. My sister Kim wouldn’t even go into the house. They had an open coal fire and the ceilings were black. As large and unkempt as Alice was, she was also the sweetest person on earth. In her largeness she was delicate as an artist and her speciality was still life. Flowers in vases … that sort of thing. I would go up to the shops for her to earn a few pence commission. Mostly to the fish shop on Wimborne Road in Winton to buy giblets for her cats. Those were the days when the fish monger was part of the social network, before the supermarkets started to take over.

I remember that her fridge was stacked with big colourful bottles of Corona, a fizzy drink that was popular in the UK. So much was consumed at the time that it would be delivered by the crate. The Corona man would drive around in a big flatbed truck going from house to house. Much like the milkman. It was a sense of summer.

So where was I? Don. Well Don had a huge shed at the back of the garden where he built rowing boats. He built them for a funny little man called Mr Bennett who rode around on a moped. Don would spend the winter with his electric saw screeching and then in the summer he would operate a boat hire business down on the beach. This included fibreglass floats which he also built in his shed.

Throughout the summer I would get up bright and early. Don would load up his old Bedford van which didn’t have a front passenger seat, so I sat on a plank that kept sliding every time he braked or turned a corner. Once at the beach the first job was to untie the boats and floats that had been neatly arranged and covered the evening before. We would line them up ready for customers. The highlight of the day was then breakfast. Out came the little Campus stove. Eggs, bacon and a mug of tea. Combined with the fresh sea air and the morning sand they were the best breakfasts ever. Looking back it is a reminder that these small things are the treasures of life and pale into insignificance the distorted amount of money I have spent on vogue restaurant meals since those days. God bless you Don!

Anyway, I spent the day pushing boats out and pulling them back onto the sandy shore once the tourists had their fun. Don had another little helper who I think was a relative of Mr Bennet. He wasn’t much older than me, maybe 1 year older or something. He could handle a boat though despite the fact he looked like an overgrown ant. We often got young couples hiring the boats. The girls all dramatic and squealing as they attempted to step into the rocking boat. The boys would be all bravado as they muscled into the oars like Lord Nelson on a campaign. But the current along the Bournemouth shore is quite strong. One time it took hold and clearly one of the guys was struggling. The current was taking him further and further away. Eventually Don sent his little helper to rescue Mr Muscles and his fair lady. It was funny to see them at the back of the boat being rowed be this tiny little boy.

Today is a day of conflicting activity. I have to go to Moss Bros to hire a suit for a wedding and then attend my aunts funeral. This could be an idea for a movie! My nephew Richard is getting married at the end of June and it is a top hat and tails affair … without the top hat on good advice from Guy, my brother-in-law. The basis for this decision is that it is rarely worn and will save having to carry the thing around with us. I suspect though, I will be thinking there is something missing. After a few drinks I will probably be searching for the top hat I never had, wondering where I left it.

I thought that I may need an appointment for a fitting so when in Spain I emailed Head office to ask if I needed to. They sent back a reply with the opening hours so I just turned up. But the young lady was flustered because I did have to make an appointment and I was irritated because I now had to return tomorrow. I wasn’t happy about that. Not good enough and made a bit of a fuss. But later, just out of curiosity I looked back on my emails to reinforce my argument only to discover that in fact they did recommend I phone to make an appointment. Bugger! I clearly had a junior moment!

Until next time 🌏