Few Words

Grandma’s older sister Myra lived at number 12 Harrison, so all three sisters lived within a few yards of each other for most of their lives.

I remember one time I called in on her, around Easter 1948.

I came out of my grandmother’s house at number 34 and wandered down Harrison Street, stopping at number 12. Aunty Myra was my great aunt; my grandma’s sister. I didn’t call in very often but opened the unlocked door on impulse.

Aunty Myra and Uncle Jack were a strange couple. Uncle Jack worked in the steel works. Mam told us that his work mates nicknamed him ‘Midnight’ because of his appearance.

When she was ‘working’, Aunty Myra wore a gypsy scarf edged with a row of silver sixpences. She had a crystal ball on a small table in front of the street window and also did fortune readings from the tea leaves. I peered through the gloom. The front room was cluttered and had a faint smell of decay and tobacco. I could hear Bing Crosby singing ‘Galway Bay’ quietly in the background.

I edged my way into the room and stood in silence next to the sideboard. Aunty Myra was sitting at the small round table.

“Hello, ‘ow’s your Mam?” She looked up from the racing page of the Daily Mirror. A half-smoked Woodbine hung from her gnarled fingers.

I remained standing near the front door. “Oright,” I answered staring at her long red fingernails.

“And how’s yer dad?” she added.

“Oright,” I said again. A boy of few words.

She grinned (exposing a black tooth) and fumbled in her handbag. “Here’s a tanner, get yourself two ounces of candies.”

She held out a sixpenny piece. I stepped forward to accept the prize and then put the money into my trouser pocket. “Ta!” was my brief reply.

She smiled. “Off you go then.” I turned, opened the door, and stepped out onto the street.

Bing Crosby – ‘Galway Bay’  1948
If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay


Next: Mam’s family – Miriam Turner

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