Grunt – 18 September 2014


You may recall last week, I wrote about Mr Lee and the thirteen daughters that were the consequence of his dynastic urges. You may also remember that I left readers with something of a cliff-hanger: All thirteen girls married and gave birth to …? Well, it’s a bit of a trick question actually. Due to some possibly genetic problem, none of the daughters was able to conceive, and Mr Lee was left dynasty-less, despite his – and, presumably, their – best efforts!
In fact, I’m quite puzzled by the reality that I am an only child, given the apparent fertility of the area we lived then. The road passing the other side of our house, and ending in a cul-de-sac, was called Hagley Close. And it was halfway down the Close, on the left-hand side as I recall, that a family whose name eludes me now lived – and proliferated in their own peculiar way. (No! Not that peculiar way, please!) The couple had produced several children by the time we left for India. What was of some interest to my mother especially, and a number of the other neighbours too, was that the children – a mixture of males and females – were all born just about nine months after the Christmas holidays. This fact gave rise to a myriad snide comments about exactly what sort of present the man was giving his wife every Christmas. Others said Santa Clause had been down the chimney a few times too often.
All I can recollect of the mother was that she had a voice that could shatter plate glass. She would waddle to the garden gate – she was a presence of considerable girth but considerably lacking in height – and scream for the kids. If she’d been standing in the white cliffs of Dover, she could have brought the ships in Calais harbour to a juddering halt.
Occasionally, the tug of nostalgia has me trying to remember her face, but it refuses to be evoked. All I hear is her jack-hammer yawp doing its utmost to render the entire neighbourhood totally deaf!