Today’s little story is about Doris, my birth mother, an obstinate old bugger if ever there was one.. and is a counterbalance to the previous journal entry.
Doris was born in 1926 in Northern Ireland in the same cottage generations upon generations of her family were born in, there was no going to the local hospital to be born as there actually was no local hospital. So she grew up in Cranfield, near the border and in a very isolated community.
She had her mother and father and an older sister Elsie, they worked the land and apart from church had very little contact with the 20th century. I’m not really sure if she ever went to school. After Doris’s mum and dad passed away she continued to live in the same cottage not dissimilar to this;
Actually this picture is remarkably similar, the cottage had thick whitewashed walls, was isolated, the nearest neighbours being miles away across fields and lanes, however the scenery was breathtaking, from the scullery window there was nothing but greens fields and in the medium distance were the mountains of Mourne, and from the front room (by no stretch of imagination could it be called a lounge) were more fields and then beaches and the sea. Absolutely beautiful. Until Doris thought it would be a great idea to build a garage right outside her scullery window and block the view of the mountains. Like I said, an obstinate old bugger.
Elsie and Doris had no amenities that we take for granted, they had no running water but a pump outside the front door that produced a brownish liquid. They had no electricity and no gas, no lights, no central heating, a gale force wind blew under the front door and there was no indoor loo. The postman would visit once a week with any post up the lane on his bicycle and the grocery van would visit every weekend with meat and veg. They spent a lot of time walking to church and walking the fields.
She met my biological father, Sam, in the late 50’s and they started ‘dating’. Not quite sure we’d call it dating, more courting but of course one thing lead to another and she fell pregnant with my twin sis and I. Falling pregnant out of wedlock in 1960’s Ireland was a HUGE sin, Doris went to church almost daily but you know, ones natural instincts won’t be denied forever.
Sam wanted to marry Doris but Doris being Doris said no, she wasn’t going to spend the rest of her life married to someone she didn’t love so point blank refused and bugger the social conventions. This was not the first time Doris had defied social convention and it sure wasn’t the last. So hasty arrangements were made and she ‘went on holiday’ for nine months in Belfast with friends of Sam and by Feb ’61 my sister and I popped out.
We grew up in Belfast but at age 18 went and found Doris and then Sam. As a small digression, 20 years later Doris took some not small pleasure in showing us exactly where we were conceived.. the exact spot.. in the barn.. too much information Doris, too much information.. (and here, look, I’ve kept the broken rubber.. )
So Sis and I stayed in Belfast with Social Services and Doris went back home and not a word was spoken about ‘her time away’. Of course everyone knew, it was a small community and stories get out, apparently Doris was the talk of the church but everyone was far too circumspect to mention it.
Sam asked Doris again and again to marry him and ‘reunite the family’ but she wasn’t having any of it, he was an arse and she was going to defy all conventions and do her own thing. Eventually Sam and Doris went their separate ways and Doris carried on as before with her sister, walking the fields and living in her ramshackle cottage as the 20th century turned into the 21st century. Eventually the local council came a visiting a while back, condemned the cottage, knocked it down and build her a new one with all modern services including water, electricity, central heating, indoor loo and even a telephone line. So Doris went from Victorian age living to modern living missing out a whole century.
During the time she split up with Sam and a few years ago, many men from church tried to court Doris but she refused them all, not because she thought she was a great catch or anything but because she was waiting for ‘the one’. One chap in particular made a great effort to court her, Albert Speers, he was very well off and much younger than her but she refused his advances. Eventually Albert stormed off and his parting words were “you’ll never get as good a catch as me, you’re an obstinate old cow who’s going to live the rest of your days alone..!”
Doris thought she was well shot of him and carried on as normal, walking the fields and now she had a telephone; pestering her son who lived in London ;(
Two years ago in February, when Doris was 82, she went to church on Sunday morning as usual and there was a talk from a group of men, The Mourne Brotherhood, a group of men whom go around the community and help out with jobs and tasks needing done by the community, chopping logs, trimming hedges, mowing lawns, doing small repairs. There was about half a dozen men there but one man stood out from the rest. Doris clapped eyes on him and he on her and it was love at first sight. He was/is called Bob and is 76. They got married exactly four months later.
I went to the wedding and was picked up by Bob as I arrived at the airport. I asked Doris how will I recognise Bob. She said you’ll know him because of his big hooter. I ‘think’ she was talking about the size of his nose. She was right, it’s HUGE.
The BBC wanted to film the wedding for the news, Doris told them to bugger off.
Since getting married she’s been to Scotland and London a few times but in January this year went to Australia for two weeks with Bob, her hubby. One night in Melbourne it was 32 degrees centigrade, the next day she flew back to Ireland and the worse snow they had in seven years but as she said to me, it’s nice to be back home..
She sent a letter to Albert Speers recently and told him he was wrong, it looked like she wasn’t going to spend the rest of her days alone after all. I think she cackled as she posted it.
And you lot wonder where I get my sense of adventure and humour from?
PS I think cackling is good, folk in the world don’t cackle nearly enough! ;p