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Country notebook

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 18, 2012

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Owing to the fact that my father was 46, and my mother 37 when I was born, great aunts and uncles were a relatively rare breed when I was a little tacker in the 1950s. On my father's side, the breed was extinct by the time I was old enough to realise there were relatives other than my mother, father and aged maiden aunt. On my mother's side the breed was thriving, with at least nine, including those by marriage.

We didn't possess a car, neither did most of the great uncles and aunts, consequently we seldom met.

One great aunt I only saw on two occasions, when her visit to gran's coincided with our market day trip to South Molton. She had dyed ginger hair, wore fur, had driven down in her own car and had given me half a crown. Back home I heard my mother inform my aged maiden aunt that she had several male admirers. No wonder I thought to myself if she gave them half a crown each time they met. I certainly admired her.

Another great aunt, a very elegant old lady, came to stay at Christmas one year. I was told to be quiet as she had recently lost her husband and didn't like noise. I don't think she liked children either, but a great fuss was made of her which I couldn't understand, especially when we received our presents. Cigarettes for my non smoking father, lipsticks for my mother and aunt who never used make up and I-Spy book of aeroplanes for me. She departed soon after Christmas and noise was restored. I never saw her again and never found out if she ever found her lost husband.

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