'Linda how pretty you are,
you look Spanish!'
Being a small child at primary school, how exciting it was to have one of the mothers say that to me. I felt exotic. What I didn't feel was the undercurrent to what that women was actually saying. It took many years for me to realise the full import as to what she actually meant.
Men always featured very much in
Doris' life, with three brothers living close by;
and sharing our home, Herbert her father,
who bought his family down from
Keighley in the depression of the1930's.
Herbert my much loved Grandfather, who I've written about before; was instrumental in me never having smoked, making me solemnly promise never to. I did, and I never have; so at the age of six or seven, a promise is a promise, and it is one I've silently thanked him for making me take, many times since.
Herbert in a casbah
We lived happily together, me a much loved only child, although Doris ensured I didn't become spoilt. Many times I've experienced her hands slapping my legs as I ran crying up the stairs.
'This is hurting me more than you!'
Is an expression I couldn't quite grasp between hiccoughing cries. The main frustration of Doris was the fact that one of her brothers lived next door but one to us, and his two daughters were everything I wasn't. Delicate, pretty little blonde haired girls who their mother took great delight in dressing up. Every night they went to bed in metal dinky curlers, appearance was everything to them. Whereas my only redeeming feature was my naturally curly hair, added to which I was a roughty-toughty tomboy. My Aunt after expounding the virtues of her two beautiful daughters turned to me and once said...
'Oh, but Linda, you do have lovely eyebrows!'
The tensions between the two families came to a head when at my first year at secondary school, my cousin and her friends in the year above me started to tease me.
'Your Mum's got a boyfriend!'
I didn't know what to say, because yes, mum did have friend who was a man. How do you reply as an eleven year old to those sort of taunts?
Getting home and bursting into tears my father sat me down and said...
'Tell them that lots of husbands and wives have girlfriends and boyfriends which is kept secret. The difference is, that I know about it and that makes it alright!'
I heard the words but didn't have a clue exactly what he was talking about.