A Knight’s Tale (3: A Relationship With My Dad)

Throughout the night we were beset by a thunderstorm, and I was beset by a barometric pressure headache.

I wasn’t up to much this morning, but Jackie persuaded me to go for a drive this afternoon. Most of the areas to the east that we normally visit were far too crowded either to park or to photograph with ease.

The exception was the village of Pilley where

ponies spilled across the road outside the Community Shop. The pair occupying the centre of the tarmac completely ignored passing traffic. Tails used as whisks, stamping of hooves, and amazing tolerance were the main defences against the gathering fly population.


Later, I redrafted the third episode of my life story.

There was no National Health Service when my mother brought me home to her parents seven weeks after my birth. It did not come into being until I was six years old. The necessary treatment was free because Dad was in the Army.

We came home to rationing, described thus by Wikipedia:   ‘To deal with sometimes extreme shortages, the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing. To buy most rationed items, each person had to register at chosen shops and was provided with a ration book containing coupons. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to take ration books with them when shopping, so the relevant coupon or coupons could be cancelled.’ 

Excepting only vegetables and bread, every consumer item we now take for granted, from food to furniture; from suits to sweets; from butter to Brylcreem; was in such short supply that if you had insufficient specific stamps there could be no purchase. 

This is a pictorial image from http://bookcoverimgs.com/food-ration-books-ww2/ displaying one adult’s weekly food allowance per week. There was some variation in quantity according to supply, but this was probably the correct allocation when I was a baby and couldn’t eat any of it anyway.

In the early summer of 1943, my Dad may have been on official leave from the army, in which he spent the war years and a couple more.  It is he in whose arms I seem to be struggling in this photograph. Mum, who was there at the time, assures me that I knew Dad well and was fond of him, so I must just have been distracted as the picture was  being taken by my maternal grandfather.  It is not every child of those years who had the opportunity to form a relationship with his father.  I will always be grateful for that, and for the efforts my parents went to to nurture it.

Grandpa Hunter not only held the camera, but he developed the film and printed the shot in a complicated darkroom process.  

This of course was long before four year olds like Malachi, his great-great-grandson, who had his own WordPress blog, could take a colour photo with a mobile phone, download it, and post it around the world on the very same day.

This evening we dined on succulent Hunter’s Chicken; boiled potatoes; firm cauliflower, and tender runner beans, with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc, and I finished the Syrah.