Here is something I never thought I would be saying — thank you Ruth and Eamonn on the daytime television programme This Morning. I can now see through my fringe. Today I learnt a new skill how to cut my fringe. What might be just a tad more difficult is tackling my roots. Even in lock down, on my own, I am finding it difficult waking up and seeing myself age – daily. The hair has to be sorted. I honestly do realise that in these desperate times it should be the last thing on my mind, but it is the little things that matter. And I admit it I am vain and if I ever get out again I don’t want to frighten people.
I remember what my Aunt Billee used to say when she lived with us after my first baby was born . I was slouching around the house in a post baby haze. “For goodness sake,” she said with a look of disapproval and those of you who had met her will understand very well that ‘look of disapproval’ “put some make up on people have to look at you.” So, for those people 2 metres away from me in the park I promise I will make more of an effort.
This gets me thinking about my Aunt Billee – she would have been great in just such a crisis. And I am wondering if everybody doesn’t have an ‘Aunt Billee’ in their family. She was our maiden Aunt, the middle of 5 head strong sisters and unlike the other sisters, no great beauty. No one in our extended family had a baby or died without Billee being there to help, whether we wanted her or not. She had no home but live peripatetically in all of our homes. She also had an adopted family in Italy whom she helped to hide from the Nazis during the last war.
Billee was frugal and hardly ever took public transport preferring, even at the ripe old age of 75, to stick out her thumb with the proviso that she only hitched lorries. I always wondered what must they have thought seeing this odd looking old lady by the side of the road.
But she was not everyone’s cup of tea in the family and for some there was definitely a love hate relationship – perhaps more hate than love. She was dictatorial, judgemental and had little time for men, except those she had sex with – apparently mainly the husbands of her sisters and friends in Italy. She maintained that this was an altruistic deed.
“I am doing the women a favour by sleeping with their husbands,” she explained, ” it stops them going elsewhere to have sex.” Or maybe she just liked sex, and this was a good excuse. My eldest first cousin in South Africa, wrote a chapter in her autobiography called My Demon Aunt – referring to Billee. Clearly, she was one of the haters. While we were all appalled by what she wrote, we were also concerned that maybe there just might have been some truth there.
She was however brilliant with babies and children as long as they behaved. Believing that the only thing wrong with them was their parents. Just for the record I was a great Billee fan.
Our family had a tradition of hitch hiking – probably because we never had much money. I used to hitch everywhere. I still remember standing on the road in Hendon looking for rides up the M1 to Leicester to visit my family.
My mother used to hitch up to Dudley to visit her parents because she too had no money. And ever the careful one, to ensure she was safe, (I don’t think she told my father) she would put in her diaphragm before setting out. Maybe a bit too much information here.
Methinks I have digressed – this all started with me worrying about my appearance. And you might have hoped that I would have moved on to more important stuff. My apologies I fear today’s blog might be a little too trivial so I could add in some rather more unsettling stuff such as the numbers of women who have died since lock down because of domestic abuse, or the children that are going hungry because they are not getting school meals or the asylum seekers that attended the drop in centre where I volunteered which has now shut down. But I will address all these topics in another blog. Suffice to say that today is a bit of life relief. Too much shit going on out there so I need to focus on the stuff which I can control like my hair.
“Let’s be safe out there”