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The Robertsons, by David A. Robertson
1978ish: I was 12. My Grandad, Tony was visiting us in Beccles and asked me and my sister, and possibly my brother to go round the Garden @ 32 Puddingmoor picking up Ciggie butts. He paid us 2p per butt. I thought this was brilliant and we soon discovered that the places where he sat on various out door days were where rich pickings were to be had. Well we collected our money and our Grandad, I guess, was pleased that the garden was butt free.
I think that it was always nice to see our Grandad when he drove all the way from Wiltshire to see us. I think I used to be concerned as my parents kept telling me how hard it was for him to drive with his leg which he hurt in a motorcycle accident early in his life. I remember how far it was as we (My parents and my brother Mark and sister, Fiona) occasionally drove down to Auldbourne ourselves to see our relatives. Auldbourne was a gathering point for the Robertsons and Nugents.
1971: I stood in the Kitchen of my Grandparents house in Aldbourne, contemplating some men. I think one was my Uncle Stephen (also my god father), one was definitely my wonderfully deaf Uncle Christopher, and my Grandfather, Tony Robertson. They said go into the garden and pick some raspberries, you can then eat them. This was a good idea, although I was unsure still as I think mischief was afoot. I would have been about 5 and quite gullible. Off I went to the garden and picked a few raspberries. I still had some in my red stained hand as I came back in to the kitchen. I held up my hand palm open offering some to the commander (my Grandfather). No he said, and I offered them around. The answer was the same, “not for us, thank you”. So I continued to eat them when I had finished my Uncle Christopher smiled and said innocently, “they are poison”. I listened carefully as Christopher’s deaf voice was hard for me to understand, as I saw him infrequently. I did not cry. But I had a huge question mark in my head. I asked how long was I going to live. Not long they said. So, as I write this now at the grand old age of 53 I remember well the lesson. Raspberries are not poison, and words are just words.
My ancestors were servicemen, engineers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and more. A family of diversity and ingenuity which created and lived and loved as much as any other family. We are still essentially the same, although I feel rather stretched, as though I belong to more than just the family I exist within. Something spiritual in nature and more connected to life than some.