Thanks for the comments this week.
I thought while I had a quiet moment I'd write a bit about my mum's family. She was born in Myslowice in Poland in 1925 and moved as a small child to Berndorf in Austria. When she was about 8 years old she then came to England with her mum and dad. Her father was a zinc roller and his skills were in demand and a local firm bought them over here before the War so he could teach the continental methods at the local Rolling Mill. It must have been very daunting to come over here without a word of English but I was to find out when I was older why they didn't want to settle in their home town. My grandad quickly learned to speak English, as did Mummy (oooh, we always called her that, right to the end). Mum had 3 languages at 8 years old. Mummy spoke so well she sounded like a lady and I was always proud of her when she came up to my school when I was in trouble etc., they used to get a shock after me with my London accent!
My Granny, Victoria, was a very difficult lady and out of the five of us kids, she only really seemed fond of my eldest sister. Now I am older I realise why she was like that. My Grandad led her a dance and I will tell you more below. She couldn't speak a word of English and was also illiterate. Apparently they only educated boys when she was young. She was quite a plain looking lady with quite a big bosom. She used to make us giggle when we were young because she would read the paper upside down at times. We never realised she couldn't read and when I saw her passport many years later, her signature was a thumb print. I remember she used to make us very beautiful dresses and she made the best egg and chips and always allowed us to put our own tomato sauce on and it was unlimited, not like at home! They had a very long garden and used to grow lots of veg. They had a shed at the bottom where they had lots of chickens, which they used for food. They also had a big barrel with a lid on, which used to contain sauerkraut and I remember my Granny skimming off the old bit of the top and using what was underneath as it was still good. I think they must have only done this in the winter though. They still had the Anderson shelter but had filled it in and used that to grow things under too. She had a little enclosed garden which had all different herby plants in, one of which was sorrel. Well, I can't tell you what beautiful soups she used to make. Her sorrel soup was to die for and I wonder if I will ever have it in my life again. I can still taste that soup.
She was older than my granddad, who was a very dapper man. There were quite a few Poles in London at the time and they all used to get together through events held in Islington at the Devonia Church, which was a Polish Church with a big hall underneath, where they had dances and social evenings. They also had get togethers round each other's homes, where they drank their vodka and played cards -- and some other games I think. Grandad was a great womaniser and my mum told me of many affairs he had had during the marriage which always ended with a big fight between granny and grandad and him being pulled back into line. My granny must have had a hard life with him and I wonder why she didn't leave but what could she have done living here, not speaking any English and so far from home.
My mum got married at the age of 16 but that is another story. About 5 years before she died, she came to see me and told me that she had something terrible to tell me. I shook with fear because I thought she had something wrong with her. What she did tell me was that my Granny was not her mother. Apparently Grandad had been carrying on with a young girl in Poland and when mummy was born, the child was handed over to him and my Granny, saying she is your child you bring her up. Granny and Grandad never had any other child, perhaps my Granny couldn't have any but it must have been very difficult for her to bring up another woman's child and especially with her husband still carrying on all the time. My mum was mortified about it all and it must have been really hard for her to tell me. Things were a lot different for her generation I suppose and mum was embarrassed by it. She had never been told by Granny and Grandad, she had been poking around when she was young and found some papers and found out that way. When Granny and Grandad had passed away she discussed it with a Polish cousin, who filled her in on the great scandal. I can only think that is the reason why they never settled back in Poland. I suppose I was shocked to hear it at almost 40 years old but also felt very honoured that mum had confided in me. I asked her to write her birth mother's name down and she wrote it on a Club biscuit wrapper which I still treasure. Hmm, I am a strange girl with my little memories on my Club biscuit wrapper. She said she would tell my 3 sisters and brother but could never find it in herself to do so and they only found out after she died. They were a bit resentful that she had only told me but she probably had more time alone with me (I was her youngest girl) than them and I think that is why. I showed them all the wrapper, so they could see her writing. They all too felt how strange it was because we never thought for a minute that our Granny was not her mother. Its funny because before I knew I had called mum one night and pretended to be Cilla, saying surprise surprise. We never knew there was anyone missing! There is a lot more on my mum to tell but the strangest thing is that mum had not been back to Poland for many years and had gone there 2 years on the trot to see her cousins. The second time she became suddenly ill and died at the age of 69 in the same hospital she was born in. Ahhh.
There is a lot more on this but I feel I have gone on quite a bit, so I will write more another time.