My family was starting to break up. All the boys except Michael were reaching the age to move away. Eddie joined the army and rarely came home. He was always the quietest one, very religious and kept very much to himself. The others would always pick on him. Though I always felt sorry for him, the difference in age and sex between us meant that we hardly communicated with each other. Eventually he married and went to live in Newcastle. As far as I know, he’s still there, fighting the constant battle to be middle class that consumes most of us.
Toshy, meanwhile, had gone away to sign-writing college. He had dressed well ever since his compensation came through, and later he began to speak with a posh accent. When he came home on a visit, he brought with him a Welsh girl who he eventually married. She was six feet tall and seemed to us very upper class.
Toshy was very self-conscious as we all waited to see her reaction to the scruffy gang who stared at her. Her name was Joyce, and she accepted that ‘her Frederick’ had come from a poor background, but that he was pulling himself upwards socially. Joyce told us, with middle class severity, not to call him Toshy. He was christened Frederick, she informed us, and that was what we should call him. We all sat and waited for his famous temper to explode, but it never did. After that visit, we did not see a great deal of him. He did not keep in touch with the family much at that time.
The strangest of all the brothers was Don. He never suffered a shortage of girlfriends but stayed single until his middle forties. He worked on the railways and lived at home, looking after my mam. She saw to it that he didn’t run short on comforts and he provided her with money for bingo and cigarettes. When he was in his forties he met a girl, married her but rarely brought her home.
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