Sometimes I feel like a bit of an anomaly these days as I still have the same set of parents I started out with. [I can just feel Mum digging me in the ribs for finishing a sentence with ‘with’…..] They haven’t divorced, remarried, run away to find themselves, married anyone else etc etc etc, as seems to be the norm these days. Even I’m on marriage number 2, so what can I say except I intend to stop there!
It’s hard to remember exactly when this picture of my parents was taken. I know where they were, and that they’d been having an
almighty argument animated discussion, when their darling daughter thrust the new instant camera under their noses and insisted on taking a picture of her beloved parents. I guess it must have been around the late 70’s going by the lack of grey hair or wrinkles.
I don’t generally write about family or friends – at least directly, but today is an exception. I originally set up this blog to inspire others and in this post I’m going to focus on two people who have inspired me the most. My parents. Today, on the 13th January 2012, my parents celebrate an amazing 50 years of marriage.
50 years is 600 months, 18,250 days, 438,000 hours or 26,280,000 minutes! Instead of sending them a card, which seemed lame considering the gravity of the event, I thought that telling their story here, with a photo montage, would be much more fun… and guaranteed to make Mum cry! Sorry Mum!
My parents met while working for Kodak and were married on a bitterly cold 13th January 1962 at Harrow on the Hill Church, just north of London.
They’ll shoot me if I say it was a classic case of boss marrying secretary, but it wasn’t a million miles away from that.
Rumour has it that Mum actually didn’t want a “big white wedding” and would have been happy to elope, but it was Dad who said they couldn’t do that because his mother would have been disappointed – more than a little backwards of what you’d expect. But that’s my parents!
It’s seems funny to me as Dad has always been the one trying to convince me to elope when I’ve planned to get married!
I’ve always questioned her thinking though when it came to making a short-sleeved dress for a mid-winter wedding (and no, the gloves don’t make up for proper sleeves Mum!).
However, Mum was very generous and passed her less than practical winter dress sense on to me. I am the only person in Denmark still to be found wearing flip-flops in the middle of January!
Mum came from a family of women that could sew. Two of my Gran’s sisters were professionals and my Gran was a pretty dab hand (good in other words) herself. So everyone could help out – some more willingly than others if I remember the stories correctly.
I’ve been told that making your own wedding dress is regarded as unlucky. I’m not sure of the logic behind that or whether it’s just an old wives tale with no substance behind it. Whatever the case, it certainly doesn’t seem to have been unlucky for Mum and Dad!
Mum had three bridesmaids – my father’s sister Mary and her two friends, Joyce and Jean. Joyce and Jean both spent the night before the wedding at my Gran’s house – perhaps to make sure they turned up?!
Each bridesmaid was delegated to make their own pale blue satin dress. And yep you guessed it, she had them in short sleeves too! Little did everyone know that they all were wise enough to have their thermals on underneath those pretty dresses!
As their gift each bridesmaid was given a white stole. Lovely idea to keep them a bit warmer. But Mum forbade them to wear them for the official photos!
I can name one bridesmaid (Aunty Jean!) who turned up to their silver wedding party in the full outfit she’d worn on the big day – dress, shoes and hair band. The side zip may not have closed, but it was close! I can still remember the hysterics that ensued when she tried to remove the dress and it got utterly stuck as she tried to get it over her head!
The Wedding Car
Nothing too unusual in that you might think. But let me put this in perspective for you – Mr Brick was at the time Factory Manager for Kodak in Harrow (near London), with around 10,000 people reporting to him! He’s later become Managing Director for Kodak in the UK.
While waiting for the off he was sitting patiently in the front room of Gran’s house, while Mum as usual rampaged around. He said to one of the bridesmaids “You can see what I have to put up with!” Perhaps he should have given Dad a heads up?!
Mr Brick was sitting in his Rolls after delivering Mum to church, wearing his chauffeur’s hat, and the other chauffeurs thought he was one of them and joined him in the car, not realising who he was. He didn’t let on!
So why get married in January? Well what better time of year to get married when you’re a ski freak, like my father, and you want a snowy honeymoon on the slopes?
The intention was nice, but it only took Mum a day to take a cracking fall and damage the ligaments in her knee. So, did Dad stay at the hotel to keep his new bride company? Did he heck. Dad took off to the slopes with another woman who was staying in the hotel while Mum kept her husband – who was not very found of winter sports – company. As you can imagine Mum isn’t the biggest ski enthusiast you can meet.
Happily Ever After…
And as we move on into married life … here’s a wonderful picture of Mum and Dad on the left and Uncle John and Aunty Myra on the right. It’s in the 60’s a couple of years after the wedding I’d guess. As usual Dad has that “why are you making me do this” look on his face.
My family is extremely small so I have only one ‘real’ Aunt, but I grew up with a small collection of people I called Aunt and Uncle and who are my family – blood or not. Uncle John was my fathers oldest friend – they met when they were around 2 years old and were friends for over 70 years. Sadly this autumn Uncle John died. He was much-loved and is much missed. I couldn’t write this post without him here.
It was 5 years after the wedding that I finally arrived on the scene. Mum had put her foot down – she wasn’t starting a family until she had a washing machine and a typewriter. And I have a nasty feeling there was a car on that list too.
Once I arrived I was only too happy to start taking embarrassing photos. Well with both parents working for Kodak, how could I not have a camera stuck in my hand at the age of 5? Perhaps this picture is a warning to mothers everywhere – think twice before you start striking poses for your offspring, you never know when that photo will come back to bite you! I guess it also gives you all an idea of where I get my showmanship from when I’m up in front of a crowd.
But of course my photo collection simply wouldn’t be complete without a really delightful 70’s picture….
I make absolutely no comment about those hair cuts – I’m busying laughing too hard. This was one of those post-skiing aperitif in our room before dinner – Campari is the likely culprit. But still… those hair cuts?!
The other event of the 70’s was my father playing football on Mothers Day one year and breaking his leg. At the same time I broke my ankle. Closely followed by my other Gran (Dads mum) breaking her ankle so badly she had to have surgery. Mum said the next person to break anything would be shot – just like a horse. No photos to include, but lots of memories of the Mrs Gatehouse taxi service!
One problem of living away from the UK is that I don’t have many of my old photos here in Copenhagen. And even if I was in the UK I’m not exactly a hoarder – if it doesn’t move it tends to get chucked out. (My husband does worry that if he sits on the sofa too long, when I’m on one of my chucking out missions, then he might be next…. don’t worry love.) But it all means that I was a bit stuck in terms of a 1980’s picture of my parents. No Wham hair cuts to show off for Dad or Kate Bush for Mum. Though I do seem to remember Dad trying to show he was cool and bringing home a copy of Fleetwood Macs ‘Rumours’ album in 1984. Mum wasn’t impressed and I mean she REALLY wasn’t impressed. They’re much more an opera couple than a pop duo.
Moving on in to the 1990’s they both did a great job of covering up their hair cuts with Christmas hats in this shot. This was Christmas 1998 and a Christmas lunch in Stevenage. Those blue party hats are just so fetching! Our Christmas meals tended to be planned around my two grandmothers. Granny P (Mum’s mum) was in sheltered (supervised) accommodation for a number of years so some Christmas’ we would cook the turkey and veg. at home and then decamp with it all down to Gran’s tiny flat. It would have been fine if Mum didn’t have a tendency to leave a little something at home – peas in the microwave or roast potatoes in the oven for example!
Coming almost up to date to summer 2011…..
So what gift could I give my parents to celebrate this amazing day – that was the question….
What could I give to two people who have everything they need? Well the last time my parents went to New York was the year before I was born and 4 years after they were married – the winter of 1966. That winter was known for a long time as THE winter as the snow was so extreme.
So this Christmas we returned for 5 days in the Big Apple. No snow this time. And our gift? Well I arranged for us all to stay somewhere nice just off Times Square. This photo was just in front of Rockefeller Plaza and the famous skating rink.
So here’s to you Mum and Dad. Congratulations on reaching 50 years. We love you and we wish you many more wonderful years. Love and hugs from us all here in Copenhagen.
And a big thank you to Joyce, Jean, Jonathan and Aunty Mary who contributed stories and pictures….
© Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.