Our family (by today's standards at least) being a rather large one - the four Hughes girls have all had many girlees and boyees - I certainly won't have stories about every one of them...! BTW, I count 24 direct cousins, and Mary raised one of her daughters' daughter, so we can round off the number to 25! Correct? How many are there now, including partners and cousins' children!? So, of course, those of you who are younger, you'll have to excuse me, I'll deal with the cousins I knew most. This mustn't stop you from adding whatever you want in terms of what happened to you!! (Is this blog read by other cousins, I don't know...)
Here you'll find photos of groups of cousins which have been posted already; it's a rather small collection, considering the number of occasions and the length of time the blog covers. First I want to say that our cousins were one of the main joys of our stays in Palmers Green. Well, saying this of course does seem to exclude a little the Maidstone cousins, but more on this in a while. We spent so many hours having fun and sharing good times that I don't know where to start. As I said, some cousins were closer to us in age and therefore more like friends, but to me this big family was a great family. The smaller cousins were lovely! Probably the ties were stronger when they had been sent over to stay with us in France. I know that Nick, Carmel, Monica, Jane, Mark, Janet came, but what about others? Carol, did you spend holidays with us in France?
Here's a pic of Nicky who came back in 1968. I wonder what he's holding in his hand: a sort of toy helicopter? Nick was a great one for inventions. While with us, he created the unforgettable Anti-willie-tree device, whose purpose was to stop all willie trees from being transplanted in France. I'm not sure that Auntie Olive followed his decree, and you can see on his face that he's not fooled. Poor Nick also went to school with us in Bonnebosq, and because he didn't know anybody there, he would stick very close to us, and we cruelly found it funny to run away from him, just to make him run after us in a panic, and have the whole school chasing and roaring after him! I don't blame him if he never came back and I congratulate all the other Wrights who did!
Monica and Jane came to Bonnebosq, but apart from being charmed by their graceful presences, I don't recall anything worth telling about: they must have been very good, helpful and well-behaved! Girls will be girls! When we in turn went to school in PG, it was reassuring to have the cousins around. My memory is that in St Monica's we didn't mingle all that much though, perhaps because we weren't in the same classes. But after school, there were those glorious sessions at the Wrights, where laughing and romping took place either inside or outside.
I remember playing chess inside, skittles outside, riding scooters and tree-climbing (there were also many indoor games), going to the shops and buying sweets, of course wandering around in the Park. Once we had a session of running up and down Derwent Road and knocking at people's doors: our plan was either to put us French people up front and have us ask something in French, or just run away and delight in the fright of a cross dweller shouting after us. We would also spend some time in phone booths and call the operator and ask impossible or silly queries. I remember Nick once asking a randomly picked Mr Wall whether there were any Walls at home, and when the guy on the other side said "no", asking "so how does the roof stand?" This had me in absolute stitches. At the Wrights it was great because it seemed you could just come in and out and nobody cared (almost!). At AB's it wasn't as practical I suppose.
Very often the cousins just dropped in at Grandma's, and this happened most of the time with Mark or the Wrights. We usually went to the park, to the pool, or stayed to play with Auntie Olive. Now of course so much took place with Mark, I'd need a whole book to tell. I think originally we didn't meet all that much, but from 1973, I think, started a companionship which carried on until our university years (Mark, I recently revisited Falmer when reading Sweet tooth, by Ian McEwan - have you read it?). Much of this is recorded in loads of letters which I've never gone back to reading - I opened some a few months ago and found a lot of teenage wit (let's call it that), certainly there would be something to draw from all of it, but it would take time! Mark, what do you say? Mark's letters aren't the only ones I've kept, there are some by Carmel, quite a few, I was surprised! She must have been very proud of being able to type, because many of her letters are impeccably laid out, very neat and orderly.
(I wonder if these girls were as prim and proper as they seem...)
I've told elsewhere about the fun at the swimming pool and in the Park with Mark; and when I spoke about transportation, I should have mentioned the world famous Go-cart which Mark had rigged and which didn't look like this:
But more like this:
But somehow the safety standards were perhaps lower. I think we must have given frights to old Grannies watching us through their Hamilton Cres windows. Mark had lots of ideas for fun. One of them I enjoyed was to go and look for newts in Cannon pond; he'd brought a jar with him and we scooped up some newt filled water which fascinated me because of its murky mystery. I don't know what happened with the jars: I wonder if we didn't pour them down Carol's neck? I think Mark used to like engines, because at one stage he had a tiny plane motor which worked with real petrol and we had to go and get some in order to make it work: I remember I was really frightened the whole thing might explode. I'm not sure who of us two was the most unruly and who the most law-abiding Well, perhaps as a policeman's son... Anyway, I recall distinctly having angered him once by pressing uselessly (and for fun) the "pedestrian crossing" knob on a red light somewhere (Green Lanes I think), and him forcing me to actually cross the street, whereas I would've been interested to see the result of the prank on the puzzled (angry?) immobilized car-drivers' faces. Ah well, perhaps all my fault, bloody !!
Well with all these lovely little happenings in Palmers Green, it's true it does leave out the cousins who didn't reside there, and it has to be said they didn't know what they were missing! (so went Auntie Jo's saying which we so foolishly repeated down the years) I didn't stay at Jo's a great deal though, so I don't recall much apart from the fact that you couldn't criticize grownups there (er, wait, you couldn't do that anywhere! So much for having thought the younger Hughes were free from Grandpa's influence!). It really was an injustice that Paco and especially Noël had to stay at Maidstone more than myself, I know. I was spoilt. I know I was missing much that Palmers Green didn't offer, but somehow, I didn't mind: how thoughtless I used to be! I'll let Noël tell the stories he certainly has been keeping to himself all those years, and maybe some too from his stay at Mary's, because this too was another experience I haven't shared! What was great at Grandma's was that we could enjoy holidays pretty much like at home: a private bedroom, and no real compulsory bedtime switchoff, for example. I suppose also that 9DR was good in the sense that there were three old ladies willing to do all the chores and leaving us to play with the cousins!
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