The family story part 21 – Helen part 2

It could have been a romantic story with a happy ending, but it wasn’t.  I don’t know the frame of mind of Selwyn and Helen when they married again and suppose they had goodwill and good intentions, at least, but it became clear that no spark of love was rekindled for long.  Malcolm, my father, regained a mother and acquired two half-brothers, whom he got on well with.  In his later years at any rate, he had little affection for his mother.  Her best-loved son was the middle one, John.

At some point, Helen contracted cancer in her face and underwent early radiation therapy.  this was successful but her face never healed and she disguised the wound with a scarf, wrapped casually around her face.  I’ve seen (rather long distance) photos of her, she looked decidedly quaint and made no effort to make it attractive.  Apparently, the bone was dead and, periodically, a bit would break off and work its way through the skin, but I’ve no knowledge of that beyond what my mother told me.

Selwyn became very involved in local politics.  Although a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, he had a strong social conscience and, as a child, people used to tell me about the good deeds he had done, and my parents were told them similarly.  For example, he was once being dropped off outside the Town Hall by his chauffeur, when an unemployed man shouted out bitterly, on the lines that it was all right for some rich buggers, but real men like him couldn’t feed their families.  Selwyn (always known as The Major; it seems he didn’t like his name either) swung round and demanded to know the man’s name and address.  Defiantly, not caring if he got in trouble, the man gave it.  When he got home, he found a lorry delivering a ton of coal and later had a letter with an offer of a job.  He had an elaborate rock garden laid out in his garden, to provide employment.  I’m not justifying his wealth compared to others’ poverty, but I know that he and my father were both ambivalent about it and felt their duty was to help others.  Whilst retaining their money, clearly.

When the Second World War broke out, my father was called up but not allowed to fight, because of his short sight.  He joined the RAMC as a private and eventually became a Regimental Sergeant Major.  I don’t know which of the Forces John joined, but I know that William was in the RAF, because he was killed in an air crash in bad weather.  His grave is in the churchyard of St Michael’s Church, in Oulton.  Malcolm was in Burma at the end of the war and came home weighing eight and a half stone.

I don’t know at what time Helen’s drinking became a problem, but by this time she was an unapologetic alcoholic.

 

5 comments on “The family story part 21 – Helen part 2

  1. Tim

    Oh my goodness! Having just spent some time flipping through parts 1 – 19 – this should all be pulled together into a single narrative. (I could easily do that, if you wanted.)

    Reply
    1. Z Post author

      I’ve never re-read them all, only occasionally searched to see if I’ve written a particular anecdote. Would you really? Wow. You’re amazing 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sharifa

    I’ve been more than remiss, sweetpea, but here I am enjoying your blog again! It’s that other social media site that keeps sucking me back in! LOL xoxoxo

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.