Speaking to friend S on the phone earlier this morning, I was telling her a story from the past prompted by the fact that Tom Daley, the British Diver and, along with his diving partner, winner of an Olympic Gold medal, had knitted (and was wearing) a fantastic white jacket with Olympic symbols in red and blue in fairisle on it. My friend commented on a man knitting and I immediately thought of my mother's two youngest brothers (she was one of eight). She said I should tell you the story. I know many of you enjoy a tale from the past - so here goes.
A and T were both Plate Layers on the railway. They both lived in the village where they were born. But there the similarity ended. T was the black sheep of the chapel-going family - he never went to chapel, he was frequently fined for poaching; he had never married and lived in a little cottage and paid a local lady to keep it clean and tidy for him. Various local ladies adored him and he was never short of a hot meal.
A, on the other hand, played the harmonium at chapel every Sunday, lived alone in the house where he was born - and looked after his elderly father, cooking all the meals and doing all the cleaning. He gardened, so they were never short of produce for his cooking and he also had an all-consuming passion. He was an embroiderer. As each niece or nephew married he would produce a pattern book well in advance of the wedding date and invite them to choose tablecloth. He would send for it and embroider it for a wedding present. I chose a cut-out design which must have taken hours to work - but it was there for my wedding day. I have it still - almost seventy years later.
As a matter of interest - they both married. Uncle T married the lady next door who had been cleaning for him for years and had produced most of his meals. They had some happy years together and when he died his funeral was huge - several Masters of various Fox Hunts attended with their followers and the horses led the funeral procession to the door of the church. And there was a long write-up in the paper.
Uncle A got chatting to a Miss W (monied and living alone in a large house the garden of which bordered the railway line so that she frequently was able to bring him a glass of port wine to drink before his lunch!) and they too married and lived happily for many years.
My father used to poke fun at A I'm afraid, mainly because before either of them were married A used to take his sewing kit to work so that he could mend anything belonging to T which needed a stitch.
All of them, of course, are long dead. Uncle A and his wife always invited us twice a year to tea when I was a child. Auntie J's favourite game was Tiddleywinks and we always had to play after tea, much to my father's disgust. I loved it.