Right now, we have been burning coal, logs, electricity, spare pets, copies of Asian Babes (I buy it for the "spot the bindi" competition) and anything combustible. It is not that the house is cold, but everywhere else is. One of the comfort zones of my childhood was my maternal grandparents house, which had central heating, something of a novelty then, and brand new Axminster carpets everywhere. Their house smelled of fresh carpet, warm electrical appliances and coffee and biscuits. And good cooking - cakes and baking kind of cooking. They moved a lot because my grandfather was a senior journalist who seemed to go from one job to another with rapidity and apparent ease including Motor Cycle News, Angling Times and a gardening paper. He was called Gerard, as was one of his sons, and so was I. Their homes were always spotless and fresh.
What follows is something that I believe to be almost certainly true. (memory is a dangerous thing) The family was at the centre of an incredible menage a quatre. In the late fifties, I think it was, there were two couples who were all the best of friends. One of these friends was my great uncle, the other a lifelong colleague of my grandfather. And then one day, they swapped wives. Just like that. Like many things in those days, it was never discussed, but eventually became clear, as these things do, when one is a child. As far as I know they were perfectly happy thereafter.
I do not have the imagination to invent the kind of scenario that had led to this extraordinary affair, but it must have raised a few eyebrows at the time.
One of the four died, at the age of 96, in October 2006. Here is the report of her funeral in the Boston Standard, a paper that my father, my aunt, my uncles, my step uncle, and many other friends and family worked on, and which my grandfather became managing group editor of. I remember Bethia. She was delightful, even to me as a young boy.
Just a life. Just me passing by a life I hardly knew. A young boy of say, ten, could never know. People who were big and old and at ease in a world I hardly understood; drinking, smoking, laughing, driving in cars. I missed so much.BETHIA Periam, 96, whose funeral was on Monday at Lincoln Crematorium, married into a Boston family in 1932 and lived in the county for the rest of her life.She was married for 28 years to Lionel Robinson, editor-manager of the Lincolnshire Standard for more than 40 years.
During this period she played an active role in the community, being a long-serving committee member of the Boston Blind Society – during which time she translated books into Braille – and a member of the congregation of Fishtoft parish church and an enthusiastic bellringer there.
She later married the late Jack Periam and the couple spent many years managing village shops. They lived variously in Morton, near Bourne, Minting, Alford, Metheringham and finally at Cliff Court, Burton Road, Lincoln.
Bethia's last few years were spent at Canwick House Residential Home.
She is survived by her two sons, Anthony Robinson, of Fulbeck, and Stewart Robinson, of Sutterton, plus seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.