Cold comfort zone

It has been a long time since I was this cold for this long. In fact, the last time I endured it, I got a massive dose of arthritis and became very ill indeed. That was in the winter of 1978. There have been one or two other times since, but nothing like that. Self neglect did it. I was young and invulnerable.

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.

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.
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.


be gone soon said...

I must admit I find it hard to get my head around the fact that I will be gone in about 20years time.
Dead. Finished. No more. Just rotten flesh. Stinking unless cooled in a fridge. All those thoughts and funny stories just drips of rotten fat.
My favourite uncles are now burnt to a crisp. Strong handshakes and firm gazes now just cinders or rotting stinking pus.
So why do we care what happens today or next week when we know we are destined to rot soon ?
Because we have evolved to be hopeful and good and thank God for that.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you for that.

Jim Baxter said...

Strange, strange things go on in families that you only find out about, or deduce, many years after they are gone.

I know a few people who find out, usuaully when a parent dies, that they half a half-sibling somewhere that they've never met. Besides the other few, it's happened to me, and it's happened to three of my closest friends. Three sugests a high percentage in the population generally because I only have three friends (that's the way I like it see, before anyone thinks I'm trying to sound tragic). Or maybe those of us from weird families might find each other - that's the other possibility.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jim, as you know, put people in a crowded room together and they will pick seek out those who give off the same vibes. My only fun at weddings is taking a look at all the odd people who come together; people who would otherwise never give each other the time of day, and find a kindred spirit. But like you, I do not meet that many.

Lianne said...

I have just found this on here after searching through google. I am one of Bethia's grandchildren, she in fact has 8 grandchildren and is indeed still sadly missed.
Apart from the mentioned error the above is lovely. Thank you.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Dear Lianne

Please get in touch and tell me more.
removing GOAWAYSPAM.