SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

MY AUSTRALIAN RELATIVES

My mother’s only sibling, my Aunt emigrated to Australia in the 1950’s on the £10 assisted fare scheme, with her husband and my cousin.

They went on to have 3 more children and my aunt was in touch with my mother when she and my father were together. When we moved to the caravan site after they split up, my grandfather emigrated to Australia after my grandmother died. My grandfather passed away in Australia and my mum lost contact with my Aunt when we moved to Upnor.

My mother wasn’t one for looking back on the past and so we just knew we had relatives in Australia, but being able to communicate with them.

The story of their life in Australia is described by my Aunt in her autobiography she wrote for her children under the title £10 Poms.

Just over 30 years ago, my sister in law received a phone call from someone at Rochester Post Office and was asked if her mother in law was called a certain name. She confirmed this and then confirmed that she knew her maiden name was the one that the put forward. My sister in law said it was and then she was told that my aunt was looking for her sister (my mother) and so they got back in to contact again.

My aunt and cousin arranged to visit us a year later and they came to stay with me. As I had no relatives that I know of in the UK, I was surprised how alike my cousin Linda and I were. We never stopped laughing and she was great fun to be with.

During their visit, they had arranged to visit various places and for a couple of them, my aunt arranged for my mum to go with them.

They went up to Scotland and got talking to a lady on the train and mentioned that they were looking for somewhere to stay in Scotland when they got off. The lady duly told them she knew someone and to go with her.

They traipsed for ages and then the lady went and knocked on a door and came back with the news that this person didn’t take in lodgers any more and then left them to it.

They tried another place and it was quite spooky and they thought perhaps it was inhabited by the Adams Family.

When my cousin asked at another one whether the rooms were en suite, she was told that they weren’t and what did they expect for £14.00 a night!

They eventually settled in somewhere.

The next part of the trip entailed going abroad by coach. When they arrived back home, my aunt was not on speaking terms with my mum and was still in a state of shell shock from the experience.

Apparently she was having a crafty cigarette on the balcony above and dropped down on to the balcony below. They went out and the ensuing fire that occurred under their flat, didn’t occur to my mum that it could have been anything to do with her.

They had some duty free whisky and as there was no lemonade, my mun put an Alka Seltzer in it to make it fizzy.

On the way back, my mum had heard that you can bring back alcohol over your allowance (quite strict then) if you had drunk some of it.

 

A man helped her carry her stuff through Customs and they were stopped due to my mum’s “allowance”. It cut no ice with them when she told them it was OK as she had drunk some during the holiday.

The coach was held up while they waited for my mum and apparently, the chap who had helped her missed his connection as they had held him as an accomplice.

 

Suffice to say my aunt said she had not seen her sister for 48 years and at the time she didn’t want to for another 48 years! Luckily they had a week’s break before they went anywhere else.

I took them to see Phantom of the Opera and it was amazing, it is still my favourite musical and I have seen it countless times in various seats in the theatre.

One of things my aunt was interested in was find about her past in Croydon. My mum didn’t appear to have any interest in it. We took my aunt and cousin to Brancaster Lane in Purley where she and my mum lived with my granny and granddad.

From my mum I had only heard about the two up two down terraced house in Peckham. When we pulled up outside this house, I was amazed. It was a large semi detached property in the road lined with beautiful cherry blossom trees. 

 

When we arrived, my aunt knocked on the door and we were invited. The couple living there had been doing a lot of research with regards to the area and the history of it and couldn’t believe their luck that my aunt was able to enlighten them.

It was quite funny because the husband had gone to get a paper and when he came back his living room was full of Australians!

 

As luck would have it, they had not modernised the house at all and my aunt showed them where her old grandmother used to sit by a big mantelpiece over a fire in an alcove in the kitchen .

 

She also showed them a hole at the top of the garden which was a sort of well that they didn’t know about.

We then went upstairs to the front bedroom and saw how my aunt used to watch from the corner of the window, up the road and see my grandfather coming home from work on a Friday evening.

 

 

My Aunt still kept in contact when she returned home.

 

When time for them to go back to Australia, I was devastated as I had found a soulmate in my cousin and we were so alike. She was born in London and had an affinity with it and loved her visit there.

 

My other cousins were Australian as they were born there.

I cried buckets when I had to say goodbye to them at the Airport and they said they would be back again one day.

 

 

  • Brancaster Lane

  • Sisters Reunited!

My cousin came back a few years later with her husband. He was an Australian born and bred. 

He went in to the local pub and they asked him if he wanted a Vegimite sandwich as he came from the land down under.

 

 

 

 

  

They asked him about Steve Irwin (still alive then) and he said “he’s a

bloody idiot”

 

I took my cousin to see Gene Pitney as the local theatre. His voice was not as good as it used to be, but he sang well.

 

Just as he was getting stuck in to “24 Hours From Tulsa”, a lady sitting in the middle of the front row got up and walked out up the middle aisle. We thought it was a bit off putting and rude, however, when the concert was over, as we entered the foyer, there she was lying on the floor surrounded by an ambulance crew, so in one way she had been trying not to cause a fuss.

 

 

 

To be continued