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The Lockdown Diary - DAY 100

Posted 2nd July 2020 at 16:57 by Cormack
Raises bat, removes helmet, winces because of the ongoing shoulder misery.

Yes, Wednesday 01 July is the hundredth measured day of this blog, from the prologue announcement way back in March through a phenomenal heatwave period and various challenges. It's upsetting therefore that I have to lead in with the third person to pass away, my uncle in Australia. It's sadly not a surprise, he has had progressive Alzheimer's since at least 2013 - he was beginning to shown infrequent signs when back home, we went to Rhyl for Prestatyn's European odyssey which was the only live footie show in town as it was still all but close season - but it is nevertheless a shock. My aunt, Mum's sister, is understandably distraught - they were married 60+ years, which given Mum and Dad's 56, is a comfortable century partnership of partnerships for the sisters. She has been in Oz for nearly 50 years but still considers Liverpool as home and it would be no shock were she to come back - the women on that side of the family have strong bonds, as I've said before.

He was a somewhat abrasive bloke, my uncle, National Service here and served in Vietnam with the Aussies, a man who made no secret of the fact that he never wanted kids, even to his kids, and who was always going to clash with his mother-in-law, to the point that they wouldn't even countenance each other in the end. That makes him sound awful but his old man was a generation further back version of him and whether he was liked, disliked or otherwise, he was respected and in societal terms, respectable, upstanding. He did for his family - that he had his own family was largely down to the fact that he was devoted to his wife. For all the edges he might have had, she softened them - it wasn't a bed of roses, they went to Oz in '65 as 10 POMs and my aunt came back alone shortly after, not happy. He came back for her. Second time around they were older, the kids were fast approaching their teens and found somewhere they could settle. He was very much self-contained and his family is/was the same - one of his brothers for example has made millions in a handful of businesses solely through his own acumen and graft. They made stuff work for them.

He was abrasive to many but of course, I was only around for the back end of the Sixties so the early years, their roaring twenties, are something I'm outside. Consequently, we got on. He was a man with stories and as you know from my old man's example, they were worth the listen. He didn't have the same style as my old man, but then my old man had a far different in-house upbringing (although the situation and indeed the fathers were of a the same cloth) and could play a gallery whereas Jim was very softly-spoken to the point that sometimes you had to really listen to hear. He, like Steve in an earlier elegy on these posts, had a hook as well - he could not deliver a joke and when he did, they could be spectacularly poor, to the point that like Steve's flat singing, it was practically an art form which you could only appreciate.

My first full-on memory of him was in '75 when they came home after my Grandad died. We were a non-driving family and so he hired an orange VW Beetle while he was over here to get around and offered to take me out for a spin one evening to turn the engine over. Whether it was because he wanted to be out of the room that everyone was in, to get me out of a conversation between the adults, to give me the luxury of a sit up front in a car, to see how I was doing in the aftermath or genuinely to turn over the engine, I don't know, but we had an affable spin around the country lanes not too far from where we lived. We were both generally quieter, pensive in nature and I remember on a later visit in my teens he said I might consider emigrating as well. A very earnest, private man who would leach out surprising details at his own leisure (he told Mrs C things about Vietnam when he wouldn't tell his family direct, for example). Mum couldn't abide him at one time but she is her mother's daughter, she softened in later years but there was still flint in the middle. He wasn't everyone's cup of tea, not by a long way, but gone, everyone now misses the tea. Sleep well, Jim.

Recommended listening - The Mavericks, Dance The Night Away

He loved this track, it was practically the soundtrack to another home trip which encompassed my old man's 65th birthday and where he was part of the decoy for the surprise party we had. He came home as I recall on that occasion to bury his father, he stayed with his in-laws, spent time with his brothers who were obviously in attendance but visiting also (spread around Lancashire and slightly randomly, South Wales), caught up on a bit of local history. Out of character that might be, but then I suppose that's how self-reliance works.

In other news, Mum was ferried back across hospitals with surgery imminent after x-ray reviews apparently show enough to do the job. All things being equal, that can only be a positive.

I meanwhile forgot something. #99 was the first post-viral chip shop hake from the Chippy of All Chippies (apart from the parent shop). Mrs C saw her chance and took it - one person in the queue, score for me. In another step to normality, my second bemasked shop since forever on #100 was my first in Costco. Mrs C now appeciates the lifting, shifting, wheeling and packing I do normally as she won't allow me to handle merchandise, only to point. I felt like Eddie Murphy at the start of Coming to America. No, not that bit...

Stay well
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