Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to http://www.catminders.biz

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

Kirkharle





Black clouds on the horizon that never quite came to anything . A lovely morning having coffee and looking round the various craft and produce shops and culminating in the purchase of pheasant pate , bottled water in a dark blue round based bottle ( one to keep, that one ) , a Border Tart , and a bottle of upmarket cloudy apple juice .

Dad arrived and with perfect synchronicity after my blog earlier told me his thoughts about power of attorney , the wills , the solicitor, and assorted matters . All things I don't want to think about and don't think are relevant for a long time to come as we are a long lived family ( apart from my paternal grandfather due to occcupational related disease ) .

As my maternal grandfather was born in KirkharleKirkharle Courtyard, Kirkharle, Northumberland, Creative Arts Centre plus Coff in Northumberland and lived there till he was around eight years old , when the family moved to Bellingham , this sparked off a conversation about how little people knew of their family backgrounds and history even in quite recent years . My mother for example , though she had met her paternal grandparents , had no idea where exactly they had lived and even though she was brought up on a farm very near Bellingham she had no idea where her father had lived as a child or indeed where her grandparents lived . I find this almost impossible to imagine as my grandparent's house was my second home where I spent many weekends and holidays in growing up . Her mother , whose death I wrote about earlier , had been similarly reticent about her family and would shrug if asked about them . I'm not sure what to make of this .

As a child Grandma never spoke to us about her early life but I was equally uncurious as children often are about adults unless there is something to spark off an interest , eg photographs or memories related . It shocked me at the age of seventeen when I was admitted to an adult hospital ward for an appendectomy . The middle aged woman in the bed diagonally opposite me spoke on a daily basis about her daughter , whose name was Alison and who had gone off to work one morning at the age of nineteen ( her first job ) and never returned . Killed by a car as she crossed the road . A moment of inattention , though I was never clear whether this was on her part or on the drivers. I suspect hers , as the woman seemed still angry with her as she spoke at length about her feelings , her thoughts about what had happened , in a way I was just not used to . In retrospect I wonder if my age or something about me reminded me of her daughter , though this never occurred to me at the time .

I think all the time she spoke her words must have been directed towards the other older women , but I think sometimes I plucked up the courage and asked some questions about Alison . I recall that she "looked like alabaster lying on the mortuary table". That her mother was grateful that she had gone to see her after death though initially she had refused stating that she wanted to remember her as she had last seen her when she had turned to wave goodbye " as she had done every morning for years " . Sometimes the other women would try to censor her , drawing her attention to the fact that I was a child , but she was unstoppable . Looking back now I wonder what I made of all this detail at the time , captive audience for seven long days , but I think I was grateful for her talking and very curious about her way of saying exactly how she was feeling . It was all new to me and as bamboozling as the nurses sprinkling talcum powder in my bed " to make me comfortable " ( though somehow it seemed to ) and asking whether I had " passed wind today " ( excruciating question and one I couldn't wait to pass on to my sister and brother when I finally escaped ).

Memories .... all sparked off by the sign with Kirkharle on it .

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