Saturday, May 22, 2021

Families and friends

It's been an uneventful week, as far as I can remember. Well, it's featured a visit from a decorator to estimate for painting various rooms (that's going to be expensive, I fear), a visit to the dentist (ditto) and a mammogram (routine). So, not fun, though I've also had some friends round for coffee and a catch up, which was much better. One friend, much younger than me, is starting a new romance (while unhappily married) so that was rather startling. Rather her than me, but she's so happy!

Quite a few years ago I bought a book about childhood in Glasgow in the early years of last century. I read the beginning (on a train, maybe?) and then for some reason never got round to reading the rest until last week. It was written in 1987 and the writer interviewed lots of old people to get their memories. And when I got to the bit above, I was struck by the name Noble Boyd, because one of my father's many cousins was called Noble Boyd (actually Thomas Noble, but always called Noble to differentiate him from his father Thomas)  and he lived near the White Cart River in Glasgow. To translate the above: he was fishing for tadpoles, fell in, got very smelly and then was smacked when he got home. On the other occasion he went stealing apples (probably just the fallen ones) and got all wet again. 

Here he is near the bottom of my dad's carefully-compiled family tree. I never met him but now wish that I could ask him some of the questions that one wants to ask after there's no longer anyone there to answer them. It looks as if he had no children. 

Here he is again: 

He sounds quite a character. His father deaved him and his siblings about cribbage - there's no adequate English word for "deaved" but it means something like "pestered" - but with a real feeling of weariness. It's from the same root as "deafened" - but metaphorically. It hasn't anything to do with being loud. 

Here he is with various other cousins and their spouses at a golden wedding party. Luckily I know who most of them are because my dad left a key to the photo. My grandmother is on the far left in the second front row and my grandfather in the same row, but third from the right. I wonder why they didn't stand together. 

 This is Noble in the back row, middle, as a young man. 

We used to visit my aunt, my dad's sister, in Norfolk, and one year I got her to dictate her family memories. This is what she said about Noble's parents: 

Uncle Tom (Clarkston Tom) - (1872-1957) 

We thought of Uncle Tom as very posh – maybe he married above his station? He had a maid called Jean Ross. One time, when my mother was staying, they went to visit some friends who served dainty sandwiches and had finger bowls, which my sister Jean had never seen before. My mother very seldom made derogatory comments but this time she said that she thought they were showing off. Uncle Tom’s wife was called Ann(ie) McKendrick (1869-1936) . He worked as a traveller for suiting and gave my mother out-of-date books of pattern samples, out of which she made patchwork bedcovers [two of which I now have]. He came to Edinburgh in the course of his work and he had a car! He used to bring us a big box of chocolates. We children had Sunday clothes, including coats, made by Uncle Tom’s firm. They were beautifully cut. When we were older, Jean and I used to go to his house – which seemed posh - for holidays. It was right by the River Cart. We used to climb over the wall, scramble down the banks and explore the river.

 Uncle Tom was a Justice of the Peace, which increased our sense of his poshness!

And here are the quilts that my aunt gave me, made from Noble's father's out-of-date pattern samples about 100 years ago. Not fancy, but serviceable and warm. 

Daughter 2 and Littlest Granddaughter are coming on Monday to stay for almost two weeks. Won't that be lovely?


  1. It sounds like you have some expensive projects coming up. Interior painting is stressful but since my house really needed it, I had it done last fall. It was well worth the chaos and money; it looks great and fresh. You will love it! That is odd about your friend; I can't imagine starting up a romance while still married. But life, relationships and the world are complicated. YAY for friend and family visits! It will be wonderful to see Daughter 2 and Granddaughter. I know you've been missing them terribly!

  2. Fascinating to read those excerpts - and I didn't even need your translation! There are words in Irish too that have no adequate equal in English. Deaved sounds like what it means....

  3. Lovely old photo there. I can see a likeness of you and daughter to your Grandmother.

  4. well that history is just magical - and to have the quilts as well! My first reaction to the photo was definitely 'they look posh' - I don't think any of my grandparents owned evening clothes, let alone the whole family. But that might be a kiwi thing....

  5. Oh My! Your friend! Does the husband know? What an interesting conversation it must've been when she told all of you! I enjoyed reading about Noble Boyd. He sounds (and looks!) like he was a fun boy. I chuckled when you said slapped -- I think we would say spanked. Slapped is usually on the face and seems to be a bit harsh for his tadpole transgression. I'm so happy for you -- I'm thinking Daughter2 must be there as we speak? I hope you're having a grand time!!!

    1. Skelping is slapping anywhere on the body. Spanking tends to be the rear end! Yes thank you, grand but rather exhausting!

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