|My Dad 1937 a cabin boy on the RMS Laconia|
I remember as a child the long fearful sleepless nights that occurred every so often, when 3 am was a magic time, when you could easily imagine everyone was asleep. Now the days, jumble into each other and the long ones of youth seem wasted.
I think now it was a lost opportunity during the 3 months, rains that seem to occur at least 8 time every winter, not to read a book, but after I'd read all the Wide Range Readers at school, I had nowhere to go, my only family guidance on books was hopeless, not coming from a literary family, the access to mental stimulation became even less when my dad died.
My maternal grandmothers life had been turned upside down by the death of her mother when she was 1, she had been raised by her uncle in deepest Deganwy, she was in her early 30s when my mum was born, as the oldest child, my mum would follow the same pattern with minor variations. At the outbreak of World War 2 she was sent off to Wales for the duration, this time around St Asaph, and afterwards it would be 1963 before I came along. The maternal Grand Father seemed to have the most normal life, born in a Barracks in Ireland, to a father who had been born in a Barracks in Dublin. His sisters were born in India and at some point that had all been forced to live in Hull.
My dad's family was even more of a mess. My paternal grandmother's father had died when she was about 5, in about 1895, in Wrexham. The grandfather was the last born of 8, his mother died soon afterwards and by 1900 he was in the poor house. The family had lived in various insalubrious places, like cellars on Lime Kiln lane.
WW1 came along and both my grandfathers were in France both got gassed at some point and the paternal gf lost both his legs.
When I was born it looked like perhaps this bit of the family had escaped, as my dad worked for Cable and Wireless and would soon become am Executive Officer at Giro, not the best job in the world be a long way up from being a pavior for the council.
Really, if it hadn't been for all the late marriages I'd have been born during WW2.
I can't help seeing myself as the result of all this mess, I also don't imagine that I would make a great parent, my siblings doesn't seem to have.
When you look at the 1880-1930 population of Liverpool and the condition, some of them lived in I doubt that my history is that unusual. It really can only be a small portion of the population that escapes this kind of cycle.
If you want a tip on raising kids from someone who has none, then it is, fill your house will books of all sorts, the greater the variety the better. Even if you don't know much about books yourself, pick them up randomly at car boot sales, etc. Do find out what the best children's books are from the stuffiest of places. While libraries are great they are also terminally dull and any of the good books are out. You want histories, fictions, sci fi, fantasy, autobiographies, science and you want to read them yourself and be seen to read them, especially at dinner. In the end your child will start getting their own books in a genera they like. Hopefully by then you will have found your own, and can sell all the other books at the next car boot sale. It will not get rid of your families history but it will give you kids the benefit of other peoples experiences, which should help counteract the intellectual, cultural and scientific poverty that a lot of us grow up with.