local,  memories,  merry christmas,  personal

Great Aunt Mary

I was having a bit of a daydream the other day (as you do) and for some weird reason, Great Aunt Mary popped into my brain.

A brief history.

Great Aunt Mary lived next door to The Dirty Duck in what I believe was a Flowers Brewery House. Her husband Charlie Pardoe was a director of the company.

Great Aunt Mary was my wife’s Great Aunt (whatever that is) and a respected member of an already close family. So when she sadly was widowed, she became a regular fixture at my wife’s family Christmas dinner.

When I married into the family and was invited to join the seasonal festivities Great Aunt Mary was already quite elderly but, and this needs to be said, was as sharp as a blade. Elegant and poised with an intricate hairstyle (Victorian Roll ?) that wrapped itself around her head without a wisp of hair out of place. I thought she looked fantastic, if a little out of place and time. But no matter.

She was, however, extremely eccentric. Her pronouncements on life and living sometimes took the breath away but whatever she said was said with dignity, politeness and an old world courtesy that was hard to fault. In short, to me she was absolutely fascinating. A product of a different age. Wonderful. Even if in her world she did things a little differently…

For Instance.

She smoked frequently but I swear I never saw her inhale.

Great Aunt Mary,onions good for the blood,christmas dinner, Great Aunt Mary, She drove a white Morris Minor that she never took out of second gear. Many a time, when I was sat on The Dirty Duck wall enjoying a drink you could hear the straining engine miles away as she returned home from wherever she had been.

Once, when baby-sitting my wife, it was discovered she couldn’t literally, boil an egg.

What she did have however, was a wonderful turn of phrase. Which brings me on to Great Aunt Mary and The Regular Christmas Onion Statement.

I will attempt to explain… If my wife’s Great Aunt Mary Pardoe had still been around, there is no doubt in my mind that she would have had this nasty Covid 19 soundly defeated within a day or two

And how I hear you ask?

Why, by filling/force feeding every member of the population with a constant supply of well-cooked onions. How else?

I can remember clearly those wonderful, drunken Family Christmas dinners gone, when coming upon the said vegetable on her plate she would, without fail cry out, in all honesty and loudly ‘Ah Onions…good for the blood’.

Great Aunt Mary,onions good for the blood,christmas dinner, Great Aunt Mary,

The Onion Statement became as these things do, especially from elderly eccentric members of the family, a regular occurrence. We waited for it to pass her lips. And so it was, It became, tradition. It was expected and sure enough it, like a visit from Santa, happened year after happy year.

More than that, it became, certainly in my mind a signal for the festivities to begin. Which of course, in that unforgettable and loving household they always did.

As the years passed and a well lubricated (Gin and ‘it’) Great Aunt Mary gradually retreated into muddled old-age, her oft repeated war-cry began to fade and, as these things do, eventually became the stuff of legend. A tale left for members of the growing and aging family unit to relate to the younger ones. And so it was that The Onion Legend lived on, but so much, with the originator gone,  was lost in the telling of the Christmas Onion Table Tale.

Great Aunt Mary’s manner, her abruptness, her correctness of voice was beyond imitation for most of us and the phrase lost its power. It was never the same.  Moreover, the absolute belief that ‘Onions, (were indeed) good for the blood’ was gone, like Great Aunt Mary, forever.

Aunty Mary lived to be over 100 and the last sighting I had of her was in a window at the old folk’s home she ended her long life in. Her magnificent and intricate hair style was gone (I’m guessing because its complicated architecture had become impossible to handle for the busy attendants) and she was sat in a wheelchair obviously away with the faeries.

It was a sad sight to behold. But even seeing her like that, in that reduced state, the well-known phrase echoed through my head…bringing back many happy, happy memories…’Onions, good for the blood’.

Happy Christmas. x

Thanks for your point of view. Much appreciated.

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