Harbingers of Gloom and Doom

Barry’s latest memoir is prompted by the “Page Out” thread on the OVF Forum…

Harbingers of gloom and doom include people carrying placards telling us the end of the world is nigh, or e-mails forecasting the most terrible of personal outcomes if we don’t forward the contents to 10 or more friends. You’ve all seen the placards and read the e-mails – Yes?!

We all grumble now and again about one thing or another, but for most of us most of the time it’s over and done with quickly, water under the bridge and all that…

Look, we all grumble now and again about one thing or another, but for most of us most of the time it’s over and done with quickly, water under the bridge and all that.

Harbingers of gloom and doom are everywhere and from all walks of life – those who love to belittle others in a snide tone when gleefully exclaiming ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ It is my opinion that for these doomsayers such outbursts are standard stock-in-trade.

Which brings me to my story: the recent Onevalefan forum topic titled ‘Page Out Now’ found me travelling down memory lane to a time when I was just 8 years old. In fact, that day in time remains indelible in my mind for two reasons, as you will see.

It was circa 1950 when a young couple in our Parish were about to get married and the buzz was building in and around Millward Road, Bucknall. The bride and groom lived in Bucknall and went to the same schools before working in pots’n’pits. Also, they had cleared all the necessary ‘hurdles’ for immigration to Canada later in the year, and although they were in their early twenties the general consensus was one of a bright future for 2 of our very own kith and kin.

Still, same as today, there was the odd gloom and doom comment…

Still, same as today, there was the odd gloom and doom comment. But there was one particular lady who seemed never to have a good word about anyone or anything and, as far as I can recall, most folk chose to steer clear of her.

It was wedding day, spring was in the air, the sun was high in the sky and kith and kin from in and around Bucknall had gathered outside the bride’s home – yours truly included. As the wedding car was pulling up both father and bride on perfect cue walked down the short garden path towards the gate and gathered throng.

One or two amongst us were surprised she was wearing white, or thought her veil ill-fitting, that she was lucky to find a decent lad in the first place, plus other similar comments. But folks such unkind remarks paled into insignificance compared to the lady mentioned above. In hindsight I think gloom and doom was her forte and looking back I’m absolutely sure she would have waited till hell was frozen over to be able to exclaim ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’

We all heard her, she made sure of it. With arms folded she addressed all and no one in particular by stating ‘It won’t last you know, they’ll be separated before you know it’.

In hindsight I think gloom and doom was her forte…

Fast forward 28 years to 1978.

It was late spring in the land of the kangaroo and my eldest brother, Thomas, was in town having just returned from a trip to the ‘Old Dart. As per usual we sat out back and yarned whilst sipping the very best of Italian Chianti. On this particular occasion Thomas was bringing me up to speed about all things Stoke-on-Trent including meeting up with some of his old mates in a Tunstall hostelry – as best as he could recall anyway.

One day he took a ‘phone call from a girl who one time lived in Bucknall and they arranged to meet up ‘anley duck to reminisce the days of their youth and to talk about all things since: Thomas in Australia, she in Canada. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the wedding girl from 1950. But Thomas had already left for Oz before she got married.

They shared lunch somewhere near Webberleys in Hanley and, according to Thomas, talked up a storm. It seemed Canada was a good move: a small successful business; 4 children; and they were well away from pots’n’pits. But why was she back where it all began without her husband? It seemed he had crossed over and our wedding girl was in the ‘Old Dart to see kith and kin before returning to Canada.

The lunch done and dusted they hugged each other their fond farewells before going their separate ways.

But wait, there’s more.

Was it a coincidence that Thomas should be bailed-up by none other than the gloom and doom lady just as he was walking away from Percy Street, Hanley? Or had she seen my brother lunching with the wedding girl and, curiosity getting the better of her, waited her chance to ‘speak’ to him? Whatever, bailed-up he was and when hearing our wedding girl was on her own she quickly exclaimed ‘DIDN’T I SAY IT WOULDN’T LAST, BUT WOULD ANYONE LISTEN?!

After a short pause Thomas informed the gloom and doom lady that our wedding girl’s husband had died recently – hence the reason she was on her own.

With that the lady turned on her heals to make a hasty retreat whilst my brother headed for a waiting taxi to take him to Tunstall.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
April 12, 2015

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