Our Mum our Gran our Great Gran.
She said she didn't want any fuss, just the family and then back to George at Walton Lea … but she never expected us to do everything she said, I said we’d have a celebration, our Mum loved a bit of rebellious spirit ...
Eda was eventually caught out at 103! ... we never thought it would happen.
I guess it must have been a good ball, she had played everything in the middle of the bat until then.
Our Mum knew how to build an innings - as good Mothers do …
0 – 10 years
a good foundation was essential, smartly turned out in proper whites, with a well oiled bat and protective pads. Eda was impeccably coached by the Hindley and Brocklehurst families, they knew all about education, compound interest and building. Eda’s granddad Hindley built a business, the Weaver Refining Co Ltd at Acton Bridge. The Brocklehursts were smallholders and shopkeepers, grocers, and they built as well. The families were close and grandparents at Acton Bridge and Barnton were second homes.
The Hindleys and the Brocklehursts were good solid Anglo Saxon mongrel stock and enterprising self helpers. They all knew about reverence & temperance; the Rechabites of Salford, the Methodists at Oakwood Lane and the Baptists at Shutley were all part of the pious mix.
And living close to Northwich they all knew about salt and Brunner Mond’s world beating technology, everybody’s Mum and Dad seemed to work for ‘the family firm’.
The Hindleys and the Brocklehursts solved problems, they coped.
Our Mum knew that building a good innings was not about luck - as good Mothers do ...
10 - 20
however good the coaching in the nets success also needs hard personal graft. Bicycling to school from Little Leigh to Sir John Deane's 20 miles away, swotting for exams, learning her typing trade at business college in Warrington and again at work, winter and summer. Conscientiously applying nous and an intellectual spark to the hard moral urgency she had gleaned from her Mum.
Hard work made space for lots of fun and cousin Wynn was a great friend, confidant, tennis partner and matchmaker.
Our Mum knew there was no substitute for hard work - as good Mothers do ...
20 - 30
the first extra cover drive, all along the ground to the rope, a declaration of intent. Eda was now fully featured and ready to go, the 'belle of Barnton', what a figure, the spectators were beginning to notice. There were setbacks, no innings was chance free, a hockey injury to the knee came back to haunt her in later arthritic years but she never asked for a runner. And her eyes weren't too good, and glasses were not very flattering in those days but she more than managed.
And with Wynn, Eda combined and contrived to dazzle the local Birchall brothers, sportsmen of repute.
Our Mum was a winner and she blossomed - as good Mothers do ...
30 - 40
powering ahead now and she had snared a good 'un at the other end, all good innings' are built on partnerships. George Birchall played straight down the middle, a good runner, supportive all the time and this partnership proved to be prolific.
Of course there were googlies - Nurse McKay, weight gain charts, measles and mumps and camphorated oil - curly ones that came one after the other, they don’t seem to bother today’s kids but then our Mum had four … and then there was George’s terrifying undulant fever …
A good man, a good house, a good job and four children and a dog, nothing in the bank but good prospects ... George summed it up –
To our dear Mummy with all our love for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New
'Let's count our Blessings'
a loving Mummy to whom we all turn
a Daddy whose job is our living to earn
Gillian our 'nimpy' then came to the fore
followed by 'smudger' the rogue we adore
then little Ricky, bless his heart of gold
we thought we'd finished with this 3 year old
until a bundle arrived sent straight from heaven
sweet baby Kathryn to make us seven
yes - Mummy, Daddy, Gillian and John
Richard, Kathryn and that other one
Jocko! The scamp makes us seven not six
we must not leave out this box of tricks
good health for all of us is all we ask
they can have their riches, fine houses and cars
whilst we little of these REAL WEALTH is ours
since we're terribly happy with all we have got
and that if you look round - - is quite a lot !
George knew a thing or two, he worked hard and eventually found himself
ensconced with ‘the family firm’, where he became a Labour, Safety & Welfare
Officer ... he even tried to supplement the funds shortage by a canny faith
in the football pools, ‘The Easier Six’ at Littlewoods ... but his job at
ICI meant his war effort was in the Home Guard, so our Mum had a relatively
peaceful war and was spared the horror of a husband fighting in Europe. The
nearest bomb fell a couple of miles away, miss-aimed at Liverpool!
Eda was also blessed with a wonderful mother, who coped with two young evacuees from Liverpool, and was still on call to lend a hand with the darning and possing. ‘Heathside’ was next door, just up the road, where Mum’s mum & dad had an orchard full of luscious Claps pears, a rhubarb patch as big as a room, raspberries, tomatoes and much, much more. George also 'dug for victory' supplying vegetables and quantities of Bramleys and Coxes from the garden. The pantry shelves were stocked with row on row of kilner jars, full of home grown produce, enough to last the year. George also helped out with unlikely tasks; he was a dab hand at apple pies with real pastry, rice puddings with delectable scrapings and scrumptious apple dumplings. The family always ate well despite the ration books.
Surrounded by family, good neighbours and friends our Mum managed well and was resplendent and wanted for nothing more - as good Mothers do ...
40 - 50
getting hectic now, all good starts bring responsibilities, the team are relying on Eda for a major contribution. She was Chief Coach for the youth team, leading by example. Also on hand were sisters Doris and Clare, without children of their own, they always pitched in when needed not only with refreshing drinks but also hard support work at the coal face. It's always a good bet to keep close to your sisters as well as having your Mum in a second home next door! ... but Nanny was a staunch Baptist, so our Mum had to remember to hide George's beer!
Although they were on a good trajectory educating children was a full time job and more. There was some outside help of course; Miss Austin, Miss Nicholas, Mr Hopkins & Netherton House. Four specimens all different with different demands; appendicitis, dyslexia, pneumonia and broken legs, added to salted porridge, cottage pie, sausage and mash and great big soggy cheese and tomato sandwiches, all in a day's work. Mr Walmsley provided the tea, George Hormbrey the meat, Fred Ellis the fish, everything else at the Co-op in Barnton ... Mrs Haddock was nursemaid next door and Dr Booth on call from Darwin Street. And don’t forget the move to The Briars in 1948 and ‘Mother’s Hour’, cricket pitches, playrooms & cellars, the Velocette and Mr Hulse's home delivered groceries from Clares ...
Eda and George were fighting hard, still keeping active and fit with 2 by 2 lifestyle diets and cricket at Arley Hall with warm beer and pale sunshine and always sticking close to lifelong friends; Bill & Wynn, Stubby & Phil, Edna & Alec, The Schos, Gwen & Bill, Sam & Ess, Nell & Cyril ...
Sure there were lows like Bostock Hall meals but also highs when the family made it into Woman’s Pictorial ...
Our Mum was flexible and confident, sometimes offering the carrots sometimes the sticks, but always keeping the score moving - as good Mothers do ...
50 - 60
half way, time for a quick nod before taking a fresh guard and buckling down for round two. Learning to drive at 50 means more fun but also more transportation work for the family. Hard running and conscientiousness can take its toll and now George at the other end was exhausted, anxious and needed help. Eda added more inspiration and all the support needed for a full recovery. What a wife!
For sure Colin Brown and Sadie Booth gave her some sleepless nights; were they really suitable material for her kids?
Eventually successfully educated and married the kids not only leave the nest but also leave the country, all of them! But it's not over, there's more work to be done, grand children now need help and Grannie knew most of the answers.
Our Mum knew a Mother's work was never done - as good Mothers do ...
60 - 70
the purple patch everything accumulates nicely and the innings was a pleasure. Happy times with George and the growing family. Children, spouses and grandchildren flock around The Briars with warm beds and good food and cricket in the garden.
Eda does the house and more, George does the garden and more -
To Jonathan on his seventh birthday 17th September 1975 -
Now you are seven and over four feet tall,
Keep your left elbow up and your eye on the ball
Practice each day so that when you grow up
You'll be captain of school and perhaps win a cup
You'll score lots of runs and take wickets too
If you remember what Grandpa taught you to do
Don't bowl too fast or play a cross bat
Just bowl a good length it's as easy as that
I hope you'll remember when you're a man
The lesson of cricket do the best you can.
Not only the family, but also 'meals on wheels', senior wives, WRVS, ESU,
Conservative Club and all sorts of assorted charities required
the regular chauffeuring of all the local girls.
And living it up at Willington Hall, ‘The Rec’ & The Mill Pool with Renee & Colin and at The Chequers, The Nobody Inn, The Leigh Arms & La Belle Époque with an itinerant family who all eventually returned to the fold.
Our Mum was everybody's best friend and continued providing - as good Mothers do ...
70 - 80
a stumble at the other end, all good partnerships have to end. George succumbs to a hostile bouncer but he had had a great knock, no way could she have done it without support at the other end. And George had thrived on Eda’s gentle goad and inspiration – abandoning ICI, Northwich’s premier business, for the risky upstart, Associated Ethyl at Plumbley ... Health, Safety, Welfare, Productivity Agreements, Pension Schemes, Coordination Committees, Berkeley Square, Bletchley, Hayle, Amlwch and EP, taming anxiety neurosis and diabetes, 50 years of Hockey Club Chairmanship at ‘The Rec’ rewarded with Life Membership, relaunching into golf at 65 together with a steady incessant enthusiasm for beer, all kinds of sport and Stubby’s yarns ... all impossible without an understanding push from behind. And no one mentioned the ‘two fingers’ of medicinal whiskey every night; what would the Rechabites say?
Our Mum knew that partnerships mattered - as good Mothers do ...
80 - 90
tiring a bit now but seeing the ball as big as a football, playing by instinct with a confidence that comes from success. On her own at The Briars but she keeps going with dogged enthusiasm and a still strong mental spark that inspires hoards of grand children and hoards and hoards great grand children. And still they come. There is an evolutionary reason for everything and Mothers who live on & on have children who tend to have more surviving children ... think about it … grandmothers work and great grandmothers continue to work.
Our Mum knew about family first - as good Mothers do ...
90 - 100
the nervous nineties but not ready to declare yet, does it matter about the century? After all Don Bradman was out at 99.94. An immense effort under her belt, almost everything is drained and very carefully passed on, adding and reinforcing the family legacy of ‘education and compound interest’. Eda is now even giving away birthdays to the youngsters, she has too many and some of the youngsters have none at all!
At 98 and getting hairy, Eda trips and breaks a hip, she can only manage with a runner now but still she soldiers on - an inspiration for all the youngsters and even the Davenham Hall nurses get the benefit of her counseling.
Batting from a wheel chair now, but coping, what resilience, what an inspiration.
Our Mum knew about coping - as good Mothers do ...
A celebration at Davenham Hall, even the Queen applauds, a fresh guard and on she goes and still issuing instructions … ‘Sept 18th 1907 … that rings a bell, but don’t tell anyone I think they’ve got it wrong!’
... and still more determination to care, ‘how are they all?’. Utterly exhausted, but with vivid and happy memories of Edward & Harriet, Peter & Clara and George and all the kids … Eda remembers the family but not the pain of the moment … and thinking is just as exciting as doing!
... and Eda sleeps but still talks. Grandfather Edward, a dominant figure in her mind, smiling as she recalls endless bits of fascinating excitement from his colourful life. Buried in Eda’s long term memory were previously untold gems as Edward’s nous was uncovered from the mists. As if driven to continue educating the lineage ... ‘give my love to Carole or Anne, it’s good to have a girl to look after you, and you look after her!’
... more sleeps but always wakes for a smile, ‘look after them all ...’
But it's not quantity, who's counting? It's quality that counts … and what
quality … passing love and 'know how' down the through the generations - as
our Mum did …
Our Mum died exhausted, too tired to wake up ... still thinking, still content and still smiling ... on July 25th 2011 at 3 pm ...
… but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to …
I still see her everywhere … especially in the mischievous grins of the
hoards of great grandchildren ...
‘I saw Great Gran Eda when she got a hundred’!
‘Great Gran Eda was even older than Daddy’!
‘Will I get a 100 Grandpa’? …
What an inspiration ! … and who says there’s no life after death? … the ripples continue to spread … and some turn into waves!
What an innings!
PS I imagine that by now the celestial teacups are chattering during the
reunions back in the pavilion … and I am certain I hear a chorus of …
'well batted Eda … that’s set the team up for the next test’ !
PPS four or five years ago Mum selected her hymns and wrote down the numbers
and insisted she wanted to know ‘what the Vicar would say’ so I jotted down
a few of these words for her to approve … she said, 'yes ... that will do …
… and don't forget to clean your shoes' - as good Mothers do ...
I promised we would have a good celebration and remember …
Photos of Eda's 100th birthday celebrations at Davenham Hall ...
The family would love to hear from you, please leave your memories of Eda here
contact john p birchall ...