Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Abacus

Quite apart from the two redoubtable women, every item in this picture is familiar to me. I'd say this dates from 1961 or '62.

Here are two of my great aunts, both of them Jersey women. They lived with us in the early 1960s.

Marie-Louise (left) we knew as Auntie Marsie. She was born in 1882. Her sister Clementine-Louise (Auntie Ti-Ti) was born in 1874.

The only unusual aspect of the shot is the apparent absence of Marsie's cigarette.

There were times when it was a challenge to see across the room through the nicotine haze.

This has to be early afternoon, the traditional time for a rest after a busy morning of domestic chores.

Both were avid readers, fans of long-gone popular magazines such as Tit Bits, Reveille and John Bull.

They relished a racy read and, no surprise, my brothers and I devoured the mags as soon as the aunts were out of the room.

Loads of celebrity gossip. I remember reading a spicy series on the rise and rise of Soho strip-club supremo Paul Raymond. I would have been about ten.

Marsie, in particular, appreciated the occasional saucy frisson. According to family legend she once snapped her library book shut, muttering: 'This is disgusting!'

'Whatever's the matter?' queried my mother.

Marsie reopened the volume and whispered the offending passage in her best pas devant tones: 'The Chinese shopkeeper stood at the counter, his abacus before him. Idly, he fingered its little balls.'
And here they are as children.

Titi stands behind her little sister. But which one is Marie Louise? I think she's the youngest here. But the sister on the right has her gaze exactly as I recall it when she was an old lady.

The short hair would have been unusual in England at that time - but was the style for girls in French-influenced Jersey - so my mother told me.

There's a strong possibility that the third little girl is my grandmother, Gladys Marguerite (Daisy) who died in 1936 - so, sadly, I never knew her.

2 comments:

barrie k said...

I can see Marsie's handbag with her knitting in it beside her chair. In my imagination (with the stress on imagination) I see her smoking, knitting and reading at the same time! Curiously now the smell of cigarette smoke does not transport me back to childhood, whereas the sight of a bodice-ripper romantic novel takes me straight back to that sitting room with Aunties Marsie & Ti-ti!

Mr Gnome said...

Thank you!

Can you spot pic of you on mantlepiece?

Ti-ti is reading the Express. I can just make out the Cummings cartoon!