Sunday, 6 December 2015

Rain initially stops play, but then I head to mum's and Andy 'does a local ride'

I was up with the lark at around 0600hrs. It was hard to tell what was happening with the weather because it was so dark outside. I had two Weetabix, a slice of toast and a cup of tea and then, having prepared the tea for the ride, I left the house, but only reached the front porch. There I could see the rain, caught in the beam of powerful streetlights. Wind gusted and fine rain was blown hither and thither. Not ideal, I thought, so I sent Andy a text and we decided to abort. Andy said he'd probably ride out locally while I figured that time would be the great healer. Sooner or later I was proved right as the rain did stop. My iphone said it would stop around 0900hrs – which was roughly on the money – but I couldn't wait that long and once daylight arrived I ventured outside to check things out.

It was still fairly mild out. I decided to ride to mum's, following the usual route. It rained lightly for most of the outward ride and when I got to mum's I was a little on the damp side, but nothing serious enough to warrant taking off my trousers and draping them over a radiator.
Tea and fruitcake round at mum's house in Carshalton – perfect!

Over tea and cake, mum and I chatted about this and that, as we always do, and I got a rare insight into mum's upbringing – her life at 64 Poulton where her brother Jack and sister-in-law Shirley still live.

Today we talked about mum's father, a person who remains to this day unknown to me, bar what I've heard. He died relatively young – I never met him, nor him me. He left the family home during the war – leaving mum and her three brothers – and eventually moved to Sheffield. He had asked mum to join him there, but she was about to get married to my dad and so declined the offer.

Mum talked about how her dad would decorate the house at Christmas time: paper chains on the ceiling and balloons.

"He liked to entertain," said mum, relating how he used to push the boat out over the festive season offering his friends and relations a choice of beef, pork, lamb and turkey – or something lavish of that magnitude, a bit like a modern day carvery. Christmas puddings were steamed in a 'copper', mum added. A 'copper' was a bath of the sort you filled up in the living room in front of the fire.

We moved on to talk about her aunties – Violet, May and Millie (the latter was always known as 'Aunt Mill'  to us), but we never saw a great deal of her or Violet and May – they all lived over Woolwich way and I think that's why mum's side of the family are Arsenal supporters. I can only remember Aunt Mill, who lived in Plumstead. She was one of those 'old ladies' who sported a raspberry stubble on her chin.

Memories are strange, but they're all there in mum's house. Across the street used to be Mrs Wheeler's house – the house is still there, but Mrs Wheeler passed away some time ago. She used to own a sandwich chop in central London. One of her sons, Billy, built a boat on the front driveway and I can still see it now, in my imagination. Next door to Mrs Wheeler was a frail, gummy old lady with long, white hair, called Mrs Rattan. She died ages ago and today the house is owned by John and Marion Brown. John was a policeman (now retired) and I remember him and dad used to play tennis together. I also remember the time he and some other policemen evicted a young couple that moved in (as squatters) after Mrs Rattan had passed away.

The rain had stopped and things had brightened up so I mounted the bike and rode home. The ride was pleasant and I was home before 1000hrs – having cycled roughly 30 miles over the weekend (probably closer to 28 miles).

One year here to see what we were up to!

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