Memoirs: An Old Photograph by Mary Irvine

An Old Photograph

Granddad Holland, Albert Henry, was married three times and was something of a Lothario by all accounts. Of course I only knew him as a kindly old granddad!

He had several children by his first wife, Martha. My mother, Mary, was the youngest.

 Martha died from cancer when Mary was just into her teens. Within a year Granddad had married Lizzie. Some say she was one of his many lovers.

Granddad and Lizzie had a son, Brian, on whom Albert Henry doted. Brian was only a toddler when his mother was killed in a car crash. Albert Henry was driving.

 To help look after Brian Granddad employed a housekeeper, known to me as ‘Ma’. She brought with her a ‘distant relative’ who had bouts of mental illness, being confined at such times to Storthes’ Hall. I won’t even go there – metaphorically.  Ma soon told Granddad that people were talking about her ‘living in ‘ and said she would have to leave to retain her reputation. Albert Henry duly married her.

Brian joined the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and enjoyed a bachelor life, no doubt based on his Albert’s Henry’s example. I adored him. He always came to stay with us and took me everywhere.

Eventually he met Eleanor, definitely a cut above – several cuts probably.

Mam, dad and I travelled down to Southwold for the wedding. Dad arranged for us to have our annual holiday there. We couldn’t afford two holidays. The marriage was conducted by Eleanor’s uncle – the Bishop of Southwold. The champagne reception was held in a marquee on the lawn of the Bishop’s palace. Mam said the house could do with a good ‘bottoming’. She’d gone inside to use the toilet.

I don’t remember any of the wedding service but I suspect Dad was the only man there in a lounge suit. However I do remember a waitress formally dressed in black dress, starched white apron and frilled cap offered me a piece of cheese with my apple pie. When I refused – I’d never had such a combination before – she said, “You’re not a Yorkshire lass if you don’t eat apple pie and cheese.” Her accent told me she was a Yellow-belly and not a Tyke. I still don’t eat cheese with apple pie.

Mary Irvine, April, 2014

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