|This Peter, Ethel's faithful and very intelligent dog Peter.|
Posed here on the balcony of Tollington Court. Peter
was the dog I grew up with. Much loved, Peter lived to
the age of twenty-one years.
I have vaague memories of living at the house in St.John's Villa (the site is now occupied by a Roman Catholic church) and of the frequent Sunday visits we made to Ernest's grave at Finchley. I have been told that my father visited us at this time although I have no recollection of it. Certainly he must have been in contact at some time for I believe that he began to give my mother some financial support which enabled her to move to a much nicer flat at 14 Pemberton Gardens. It was here that I have the strongest memories of my father visiting us . He was still a night worker on the London Underground and now based at Archway Station. Each thursday he came to visit and had a meal with us. I recall him as a nice man who sometimes brought me a toy or sweets and I can still remember the smell of his pipe tobacco (many years later I became a pipe smoker - one of several traits I seem to have inherited from him.
|My father, Bill Weaver, photographed on an underground|
train looking very much as I remember him.
Suddenly, he was gone from our lives. Why I cannot be sure. Perhaps giving my mother money to help her support me as well as sending money to his family in Kent was too much. Did they argue? Tellingly, I found a picture of him among my mother's photos which had been torn in two but not thrown away. It was about eleven years before I saw Bill Weaver again. The circumstances were rather strange. It was 1964 and one evening, perhaps near Christmas or New Year, my mother announced that we were going to Archway Underground Station. There with the permission of ticket office we descended to the platforms. There in a little office close to the mouth of the tunnel we sat and talked to Bill Weaver. I don't know why we were there and I remember nothing of the conversation. It was the year that Bill's wife died. I like to think that he had contacted my mother and asked her to tell me that he was my father. I think she declined and our visit to see him was a concession - to let him see me. Of course, this might be pure fancy on my part...I have no way of knowing. I never saw my father again.
The following years were difficult for my mother. She did various jobs to keep our heads above water including painting toy soldiers (as mentioned in a previous post), making plumes for soldiers caps and various types of house work. We moved from 14 Pemberton to 44 exchanging with flats with Little Cis and Bernard. We lived in a succession of flats in the street. Things improved when Ethel started to do housework for a Jewish family in St.John's Park Mansions. They became more than her employers, they were friends as well. After the death of the Jewish couple who had been so good to her, Ethel had several more changes of address including a move to nearby Tufnell Park and then to flats in St.John's Way.
|Ethel looking happy in the garden of her flat|
in St.John's Way.
|One of the last pictures taken of Ethel|
was this one on her 91 birthday.
On April 26 1998, my partner, Theresa and I had just returned from church when we received a phone call to say Ethel had been injured in a fall at the home and was in Southend Hospital. We rushed to the hospital to find her sitting there while they stitched a very nasty wound on her head - typically she was happily laughing and chatting to the nurses. All she wanted was to get home and have scrambled egg for tea! Four days later I received a phone call from the home to say they could not wake her. I phoned Terry and asked her to get to the home as quickly as possible. I made the journey home to Southend in ninety minutes. I was ten minutes too late. Cause of death was an old embolism that had been activated by the fall. I had seen her the night before she died and the last thing she said to me was that they were looking after her well in the home. The funeral was well attended by family and friends with even the daughter of the Jewish family she had worked for making an unexpected appearance.
People often ask me if I resented the fact that my mother had never told me about my real father.Of course I would have liked to have known my father as my father but at least I have memories of him where I had none of my namesake. I understand that 1946 was a terrible year for my mother. Maybe she made the wrong decisions but we all do that sometimes. So no, I don't resent it and think I can understand. When I first suspected the truth I did ask her outright if Bill Weaver was my father. She was old, not well, and somewhat confused and I had no intention of pursuing the matter beyond that simple question. Her reply was somewhat cryptic, she said "Your father is your father." But her eyes told me the truth. I left the matter there. A few years later I met Bill Weaver's other son and I got all the proof I needed as together we pieced together the story.