Percy Stroud, my father and Annabel’s, had his 80th Birthday in November 1981, for which Annabel and Jim organised a great party. They had always been noted for their parties and this one was well up to standard! Dad’s daughters and sons-in-law, grandchildren, and as many of our relations as were able were there and it was a jolly, festive occasion. Jim’s Dad, Tommy, was with us also. You will see from the pictures how happy we all were. When John and Jim were together there was fun. During this party they did a striptease act which had everyone in stitches – I wouldn’t have believed they had it in them! It was a shame we were all so enraptured with their performance that no one thought of taking photos.
August 1981 was both our Silver (25th) Wedding Anniversary and Annabel and Jim’s. They made all the arrangements, but this time at the Tontine Hotel where our Reception had been held in 1956. Again, the pictures show how much we enjoyed being together and remembering.
By then John’s Mum and Dad were in Castle Douglas in a nursing home. This came about because Mum M had had a stroke while at the hairdressers some years before and was in Greenock Infirmary when, and I think this is correct, junior doctors had some sort of work to rule or strike (and who could blame them) and as many patients as possible had to move. She was to be sent home unable to walk unaided and quite frail. Annie couldn’t go to Greenock, being a full-time Matron, and Elizabeth’s boys were still young. It had to be me, so off I went to Greenock. Mum M was a good patient but was unable to do much. Every morning I helped her out of bed and, leaning heavily on me, she managed a wee daunder round the room. John’s Dad wasn’t all that well either, a bit bewildered by the changed circumstances. He had his whippet, and when I went to the butcher’s I had to get a piece of steak which he fed by hand to Scott! I got to know my parents-in-law in a new way and was glad to be there. I suggested to Dad M he should ask his pals round and he did. They blethered away and I gave them tea and scones and it cheered him up. Mum enjoyed the company too. She was feeling better and able to sit up in bed comfortably.
My dad had been struck with bronchitis and taken to hospital, and when he was discharged that was another problem. Anabel was back full-time in the Bank and he wasn’t to be left alone. It was quickly solved by John’s Mum, who immediately said “bring him here”! So there was a shift around of sleeping arrangements, my Dad got my room and, for the period he was there, I slept on two armchairs with a kitchen chair between then in the room with John’s Mum. So I was handy when she woke in the night and I slept very comfortably. The ‘boys’ came a couple of times when my Dad was with us. The three had been policemen and Dad an engineer and they found plenty to talk about. I was there for about two weeks and learned a good bit about nursing elderly patients, and was content.
John arranged for his Mum to come to Shotley Bridge Hospital in Consett, where we then lived, and his Dad could stay with us for the time being. When John phoned Annie, who was Matron at Castle Douglas Hospital, to say all was well she told him she was arranging for Mum Mitchell to come into her Hospital and Dad M to stay with her! To say John was taken aback was putting it mildly, having been under the impression he had been left to arrange something. Never mind, we made a new plan. Annie arranged a Greenock ambulance to fetch her Mum. John said, when I called him from a phone box, that he would drive up from Consett to Greenock the day before and see us off to Dumfries Hospital where she had to go first. I would come back to Greenock in the ambulance and we’d take Dad to Annie’s next day, then come home to Consett. It was a slow journey and I wasn’t even able to go into the hospital with her but had to sit and wait in the vehicle. I hoped they might bring me a cup of tea but no luck! It was dark when we got back to Greenock and I was dropped at the door and glad to see John. That evening John’s Dad gave me £25, which I was reluctant to take as I had been glad to help them, but he said it was for the train and petrol so I appreciated that. We took him to Castle Douglas and then headed for home. It was only next day I realized how very weary I was, but I felt it had been a very satisfactory episode in my life and was glad to have experienced it.
I think the girls were glad to have me back. I was regaled with the tale of how their Dad wouldn’t let them heat the deep fat enough, and the chips they made were all limp and pale, not crispy like mine. I never did manage to domesticate John, though I was glad they had missed me even if it was only for crispy chips!