“History may be written in the books of the famous – but it is created by the lives of everyday individuals”
THE STORY OF BILL
When we were younger there were also the Whist drives at Church. And Bill did play Shuttlecock for quite a while in Hebden Bridge. And Domino with friends if we were in a Pub somewhere. Especially around his home where it was played an awful lot. Winning some, losing others. When we were courting and engaged he came, of course, every evening after work. And a lot of Games would be played with great enthusiasm, with Mutti, Tetta(my aunt), Christel and her friends.
Like everybody else in England he always looked at the back page first, what the Score was. Cricket and Yorkshire in particular. Went quite often to the Cricket in LEEDS when Yorkshire played there. All that came before the News in the rest of the world on the first Page. But Bill never played a Sport. Partly because he was always in Shiftwork.
At the Royal Rupert, in Wilhelmshaven, he did play Cricket regularly. I think playing just was not his interest, it took time away from his Family. Always and ever he was a Family Man. We did things together.
I taught him to swim, in a little Dam at home, when I taught our Peter to swim. While he was a marine, the Officers tried their best to teach him. Often, as he recalled, by just throwing him in the deep end. But they had to rescue him every time because he could not. We often laughed at that story. But when he had learned he enjoyed it very, very much and we went very often all our lives.
I had made a sort of Harness from an old Baby Walker we still had. Fastened my Washing Line to it, so that they felt quite safe because they thought I was holding them above Water, and they swam in no time without that contraption.
When Peter was a Boy we went all three a lot to Sowerby Bridge and Rochdale. In the last years, before his illness we went regularly to Halifax, and later Todmorden.
Church going was always part of our lives. Bill and I believed that: if Peter went to Church as a Child, he would know as a Man what he would accept or reject. Because rejection by young people became quite the thing. And the ones who shouted the loudest, had never been to Church. So this Boy would know later. And because we could not expect our Son to go if we didn’t, we went as·well. And found the Friendship, Caring, awareness of each other, the true Christianity, WAS VERY GOOD. And we gained another very much loving Family with it. Church, Mr. Thomas the Vicar, Family Riley and many other, were all part of our lives.
After Peter left for University, we did not go quite as regularly, especially when we moved from Luddenden Foot in 1970. But still went in Greetland. More often than not because Bill wanted to go, I must confess. We both thoroughly enjoyed Symphony Concerts and Opera, and occasionally Ballet. Whenever an Opera Company came North. Carl Rose, Covent Garden, Saddlers Wells etc. we would be there. Later Opera North gave us a lot of pleasure. When the Wagner Opera Circle “THE RING” came to Manchester we were there and so got introduced to that tremendous Music. Of course, as was our way, we would always fill the Car with other lovers of Music, and so enjoying THAT with like-minded Friends. Musicals and Light Opera too, and Gilbert and Sullivan. These Bills own favourites he would NEVER miss, even going by himself if I could not go.
As Bill got older, the last 10 – 15 years, he went EVERY YEAR, without fail, to Handel’s “MESSIAH”, the Halleluja Chorus. He just loved the MIGHT of it. I did not like it at all, never got to like it, so did not go every year. But he went by himself rather than knowing I only went for his sake.
The greatest and longest Hobby of his was the HALIFAX – AACHEN Society. The twinning of Towns. It was our Hobby. It was started by Arnold Edwards. We got to know dear Arnold and Margarethe very well through this because THAT was their life too. The twinning started before, but was run from FORREST COTTAGE, a Community Centre in Halifax, when we got first involved.
At first me, as a helpful Interpreter, then we both enjoying this. And when Arnold retired, Bill was right beside Iris to now start the official Aachen Society. If they had not taken over, especially Iris, the Founder of the Society, the whole twinning would have folded.
The Halifax – Aachen Society ripened on and on from the 70s, and Bill was a very concerned Worker in its forming. He loved everything about it. The English friends we made through it, Iris and Dougie in particular, long time friends now. Harry and Betty Wildsmith (Mayor of Calderdale in 1979) and many others. And, of course, many German friends, dear friends from Aachen.
Often he would translate as much as I did, between Hosts and Guests. Both in Halifax when they came over. And in Aachen when we went over. On all Bus Trips he and I would sit separately between the two Parties and translate as needed. We both shared many an intimate personal secret with people, as quite intimate things were sometimes discussed between new formed Friends.
He even went Dress shopping in Aachen with the English Ladies, wanting to buy Dresses and Dirndls. He would go from changing room to changing room and translate, or judge whether it looked good or not.
I was not there at the time as I had declined to go. I knew the Germans, those precious places were needed for two Nations to get to know one another and try to bond. And they sure did, oh yes, they DID. But Bill had such a wonderful Family on his first visit, that Anne and Willi Huhn became our firm friends for years and years, also their children – Manfred and Birgit. Only Bill’s Stroke really finished the VISITS, but we are still very much in touch.
When a party of 45 Catholic Ladies once came over and Bill and I interpreted the whole weekend, and helped to entertain them, he went to York with them. I was working and could not go. They went into the Lord Mayors Mansion to look at the Towns magnificent Silver Collection. The Lord Mayor, hearing about the Ladies in the Mansion, came down to greet them. And made a SPEECH, and my poor Darling had to translate the same there and then. It nearly frightened him out of his wits. But, I was told, he did great, and the German Ladies were thrilled with their ’Meester Bill’ and his lovely kind of German. Yes they all and ever adored their ‘Meester Bill’.
For myself, I hope that today’s post has, in some way, encouraged you – Dear Reader – to reflect on the life journeys you have and are undertaking.
As well as those undertaken by those who are near and dear to YOU.
You are who you are because of these journeys.
Where is YOUR journey taking you next, I wonder?
Oh, and by the way,
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