“Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humour which my mother gave me
Makes me forgetful?”
The story goes a young Yorkshire-woman of 19 years met a young Polish man of indeterminate age. The woman was of ‘rash humour’ and the man was said to be ‘very nice’.
We can assume that sometime in late 1954 probably November a child was conceived and that child was myself who was to be a summer baby born on Saturday July 2nd, 1955.
1955 saw many other events: the world population reached just over 2.5 billion up by 18.5% on the previous decade (2010 is estimated at just under 7 billion!): The Warsaw Pact was signed; Juan Peron was ousted in Argentina; Churchill resigned and Anthony Eden became Prime Minister; Donald Campbell broke the world water speed record at 202 mph; Disneyland, California opened; ITV started transmission; both Rosa Parks and 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up their seats to a white person on a bus in Alabama and were arrested; ‘On The Waterfront’ was awarded Best Picture Academy Award; ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama; Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ was published; Lee Meriwether (Catwoman) won ‘Miss America’; McDonald’s opened its 9th fast food restaurant; Disney’s ‘The Lady and the Tramp’ opened; Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Great Britain. And, another important woman to me – Diana Rigg started her training as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art or RADA.
Famous births – Rowan Atkinson; Kevin Costner; Simon Rattle; Eddie Van Halen; Nicolas Sarkozy; Kirsty Wark; John Grisham; Kelsey Grammer; Jeff Daniels; Dodi Al-Fayed; Donatella Versace; Olga Korbut; Debra Winger; Bill Paxton;; Willem Defoe; Billy Bob Thornton: Bill Gates; Karen Dotrice; Ian Botham; Billy Idol; Whoopi Goldberg; Carol Ann Duffy; Dale Winton; Paul O’Grady to name but a few…..
Famous deaths – James Dean, Carmen Miranda, Charlie Parker, Thomas Mann, Alexander Fleming and Albert Einstein and many more….
And, let’s not forget 1955 was the year that was returned to in the films ‘Back to the Future 1 & 2’! The first of which has just been re-released.
And, so Barry Clarke who could so easily have been named Simon according to the story was born on July 2nd, 1955 in St Luke’s Hospital, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield which is a hospital I was to visit once again in 1989 when I lost the most important and most positive woman in my life Mabel Clarke – my wonderful Nannan. That hospital doesn’t deal with births and deaths anymore apparently.
Above is a photo of Mabel Clarke – my Nannan – my Mother’s Mother who was the most important and most positive woman in my life. This was taken in the 1960’s in the prefab in Huddersfield where she lived. The young boy is me.
Now, my mother Shirley Clarke was not married to my father JS but according to legend he did offer to marry her when he found out that she was pregnant but she refused. Now, I don’t mean to mean but he had a lucky escape. And, mulling it over now this was indeed very brave of my Mother way back in the 1950’s.
Up until writing this blog now aged 55 I have never knowingly met my father.
However, I do vaguely recall – and this is through the mists of time and this is how I would portray it in a film – I am walking along the main street in Huddersfield hand in hand with my Auntie Gloria; my hand reaches up to hers so I am quite small and she says, ‘Look Barry!’ – pointing to a man stood in a shop doorway; ‘Look, that’s your dad there!’. I look at him and I can see the shape of a figure in a long grey raincoat but I cannot see his face and, we walk on.
More recently, because I am looking for some kind of roots and rhyme and reason to things – that’s the point of this blog – and because my mother has refused to speak to me since 1994 when we had a row – I decided to look up JS and found him still to be residing in Huddersfield and now married apparently to another Eastern European with two sons; who are my half-brothers. I felt as though I didn’t have an identity and that I didn’t even have one parent even though both of them were actually alive. An orphan indeed!
(Since I originally wrote this chapter my Mother has passed away from smoking related disease in December 2010.)
Anyway, I bit the bullet and wrote a very short and I hope sweet letter to Mr JS. I kept re-writing and re-writing it because I didn’t want to upset anyone and wasn’t even sure I would send it…but here’s what I wrote and sent….
“Monday, 05 June 2006
Dear Mr S,
This has been a very difficult letter to write and I don’t know exactly what to put because a} you may not be the person I am hoping you are and, if you are b} you may not have wanted to hear from me. And, I do not want to upset anyone at all.
Anyway, I’ll keep this short and sweet because of the above reasons.
My name is Barry Clarke born on July 2nd, 1955 at St Luke’s, Crosland Moor. My mother’s name is Shirley.
If those two facts mean anything to you then you will know that you are my biological father as they say in the modern parlance.
For many years I have been wondering about you but could get no more information other than your name; that you are Polish and that you are a nice person. I am guessing you are not tall because I’m not 🙂 – 5’ 7” – not good for getting served at the bar in the pub 🙂
Anyway, I don’t want to waffle and I don’t really know what I want to do if I have the right person – well, I suppose I would like to meet but, I am under no illusion after half a century that you may want to.
So, I will leave it entirely up to you to reply if you feel the need to.
I do hope that this letter doesn’t upset you or anyone else and apologise if it does.
I look forward to hearing from you .
Unfortunately but not unsurprisingly I did not receive a reply. I can understand why after half a century. I just hope no-one got upset about it. And, I apologise profusely if they did. I still secretly hope a letter will land on my door-mat. But, what would we have to say to each other anyway? I wish I knew what he looked like though – I wish I had a photograph.
This reminds me of something that my Mum’s future husband once said to me. He was a dustbin-man or bin-man as it was known then – none of these fancy euphemistic titles that they have today –and he said he was working down, I think he said Leeds Road in Huddersfield and all of a sudden these two kids popped their heads round the corner and they were the spitten image of me. Now, I wonder if these were my half-brothers? Curioser and curioser.
From here I would like to just concentrate on what I have found out about my Mother’s roots as I cannot find anything from my Father’s side (how strange it feels to write ‘my Father’)…so onto Chapter 2…….