Sunday, 20 May 2007

Hull etc

When I was a child I lived behind a shop which was closed on Mondays. So that was the day when things were quiet when I came home from school. However every so often Dad was missing having been to "Hull". As far as I remember there was never any discussion certainly not when I was around, we just knew he had been to see Grandma Brown. Full stop. Nothing.

My Dad died aged 91 in 2000 keeping his memories to himself. Two weeks ago, 54 years since Grandma Brown herself died I finally went to "Hull", to the Mental Hospital which at that time did not admit people under 16. I had a look for myself.

I also had a look and photographed everywhere she lived, as far as I know, and went to a service in the little church where she played the organ before she was married and later when she was widowed.

It was a satisfying trip,clearing up mysteries and getting some sort of sense of the life. The Mental Hospital was a huge complex still containing some of the buildings Mary Jane would have been very familiar with among more modern places.

The most moving was the church and the organ. The familiar architecture, the lonely priest, who says evensong every day, usually alone, the surrounding trees, must have been exactly like this in 1905 when she was married there and later after 1927 when her beloved husband died. We believe that she resumed playing the organ when she returned to the village in somewhat straitened circumstances after the terrible times of the farm diseases of the 1920s.

The music, the religious observance, the familiar village, her son and daughter, grandchildren,do not seem to have been able to stabilse her mind. Ten years later she was "put away", "certified insane?". I`m still searching. I consider I owe it to her, to honour her memory.

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