The Auntie Doris Years: 1936

Jesse-Owens1936 was the year of famous Berlin Olympics in which Jesse Owens was the top medalist with four golds. They reckon that because Jesse was a black man, Hitler cleared off out of the stadium pretty sharpish to avoid having to shake hands with him. He was supposed to have got into one of his famous tempers and had a bout of the screaming ab-dabs because a black man had proved himself superior to the pure Aryan races in the races. But apparently this is a load of nonsense. Jesse didn’t see things quite that way any road. He said that when he did see Adolf, admittedly from a distance, the fuhrer was quite nice and gave him a smile and a wave. Obviously this doesn’t mean that Hitler was a nice man. Far from it. He was a wicked so and so, as everyone with an ounce of sense knows. But he wasn’t particularly bothered about black men being able to run after than white men, as he had the idea in his head that black men were closer to animals, and therefore were more suited to some physical feats in a primitive sort of a way. He imagined that the Aryans made up for it in culture and intelligence. Cheeky so and so. I don’t know how he would have explained Trevor McDonald away. Any road, looking at it from Jesse’s point of view, he felt more welcome in Nazi Germany than he did in America. Fair enough it was the Olympics, and the Germans were putting on a bit of a show about how nice they were. But not only was he able to stay at the same hotels as white athletes, he could even use the same transport and eat in the same room as them. Not like in his own country where racial segregation was still rife. And guess which one out of Hitler and President Roosevelt sent Jesse a personal letter of congratulations on his achievements. Hitler of course, and he sent him a signed photo with it. Roosevelt never said, wrote or telegrammed so much as a single word to Jesse. Plus he made the poor beggar work as a ruddy caretaker so that he could pay his way to the end of university. To be honest with you I never knew any really black men all through my life. Not the proper curly haired African types anyway. We did have an Indian doctor when I was getting on a bit though. Dr Ramaswami. He was always nice and polite and he sorted some tablets out that got Raymond’s malignant flatulence under control. Me and Raymond would sit in the back yard some summer evenings, and I would breathe in the pure air, and think to myself, “it wouldn’t be as fragrant as this out here if Dr Ramaswami hadn’t prescribed him those tablets. Here on the other side I know loads of black people. It’s properly multiracialist here, I can tell you. I don’t know what happens to all the racialists. I think they probably just grow up a bit and see sense. You get a different perspective on a lot of things when you are dead. Like when you are an adult you have a different perspective on things to what you had when you were a little kiddy. Or like when you cancel the papers you get a different perspective on things to what you

had when you were a Daily Mail reader. Auntie Doris’s pop pick of 1936: “Pennies from Heaven” by Bing Crosby. Bless him. He always looked on the bright side.

The Auntie Doris Years: 1935

bairnswear1323aI was twenty one years old in 1935. I was unmarried and living at my parents house. (They gave me the key to the door). I had a job in a factory that made bandages and surgical appliances. And I also had a beautiful baby girl come into my life. April May. But before you jumping to any conclusions. She was my sister! And that was a hell of a shock to all of us. My mother was over forty years old! And my father was a good few years older. And relations had never been all that cordial between them even before she had launched the King Edward at his head. And if possible, since the potato incident, father had been even more uptight, unpredictable and given to lecturing all and sundry about the wages of sinful behaviour, carnal relations being a topic that he had become increasingly fond of denouncing.

I often wonder if Lloyd George had anything to do with it. He was in his 70s by then, but apparently he was a filthy so and so right up to his eighties, when he finally passed over to the other side, and continued to pursue his passions with renewed vigour. My mother always had a thing about Lloyd George. But then she always followed the Liberal politics, and when there was any help needed, in our neck of the woods, she would be there. I sometimes wonder if she hadn’t fallen for the charms of one of Lloyd George’s successors, Herbert Samuel, or Archibald Sinclair. My vote would be Sinclair, as Samuel was almost as long in the tooth as Lloyd George, but Sinclair was a dapper forty something with a twinkle in his eye, and he was a Viscount an’all. In fact Lloyd George might have tipped him the wink about my mother on one of his northern campaigns, and he may well have chanced his arm. All conjecture mind. There are some things that you don’t talk to your mother about, even when you are dead, and even if you did, and she told you, you couldn’t present it as fact anyway.

So there I am with a baby sister, who may or may not be related to Viscount Thurso. Well, my mother needed as much help as I could give her, so I became a dab hand at changing nappies, mixing gripe water, winding, feeding and pushing the perambulator around the neighbourhood. It was great fun, and it kept the men at bay an’all. I wasn’t bothered if they thought she was mine. I knew she wasn’t and the law knew she wasn’t so nobody was going to take her away from me. She was born in wedlock and lived with her parents as far as the law was concerned. But as far as I was concerned, she was my little girl. And she still is. Even though she is going to be seventy nine this year! I still keep an eye on her. And her son. That gormless nephew of mine. Auntie Doris’s pop pick of 1935: “On the Good Ship Lollipop” by Shirley Temple (aged 7). I remember singing it to my little April May, and watching her giggle with delight. It can still bring a happy tear to my eye when I hear it.