October has been quite a hectic month. As we landed back in Vancouver on Halloween, exhausted, I realised that, if everything turns out like you expect, then we would have no stories to tell and memories to remember.
The month started as planned. We returned to the UK on a flight into Manchester a few days before my sister, Mel’s, wedding. If you didn’t know already, I am one of six children, three boys and three girls, and Melanie was the last of my sisters to tie the knot. How could we miss it? We had already returned for my best friend’s wedding – at which I was best man – back in April.
While Nich baked cakes and went to dress fittings, I spent a few days in Hull. Spent time with my little brothers, Jonathan and Alex. I was proud to find that, having tried for years to inspire them to start playing instruments, at age 15 it had finally hit home and they were learning the drums and guitar respectively.
Jonathan practicing the drums (note the Gideon Retch signed drum skin hanging on his wall)
I also visited my Grandma, Win Sharman. Our family is all from a very small area in Hull and Win, my mum’s mum, has always lived just around the corner. She lost her husband George a few years ago and so has been living alone since. However, she got a dog, Freddy, and not a day went by when she wasn’t busy. Visiting my mum or her son, walking the dog, taking her neighbours to the shops, driving all over the place. She was, at 82, as fit as a fiddle. We chatted about the wedding over a cup of tea and i showed her some pictures of our recent exploits in Canada.
My Mum and Grandma with Freddy the dog
We also talked about her poems, which I had been attempting to compile into a collection for her. As we left I noticed a large spider had strung a web across her front garden. I started taking close up pictures of it with my camera and she laughed with her neighbours. “Look” she said, “There’s a BBC cameraman in my front garden filming a wildlife documentary!”
Mum and Grandma look on as I photograph the spider in the front garden
On leaving Hull I met up with Nich in York, where we first met. We went to visit our friends who have just had a baby. I accidentally mentioned that young Emily Potter resembled a rugby player but luckily her mum and dad, Alice and Ned, have a sense of humour. On reflection, she’s actually very cute.
Ned and Emily Potter
So, on to the wedding. The date was 10/10/10 and all went magnificently. We made the cakes, Nich was a bridesmaid, I filmed a little documentary video for the happy couple and got massively drunk and danced to Michael Jackson.
Nich and I ice the cakes
The finished product!
Bride and bridesmaids (L-R) Sarah (sister), Ruth, Mel (sister), Steph (sister), Nich (wife)
Two of these people went to dance class as children
Post wedding, there was even time for a quick trip to Nottingham to catch up with some good friends…
Our friends Sarah, Abi and Paul at the Broadway in Nottingham
And even a meeting with our favourite dog Mavis!
Me, Jane, Sara, Nich and Mavis the Dog! Monsal Head in Derby
We flew back to Vancouver with plans to take off around the USA for the rest of the month and most of November. Everything was planned and off we went, taking in Washington state and some of Oregon. I was standing in Portland, at the Saturday market having just ordered a Phillie steak and cheese sandwich. A call came through from the UK, it was my sister Stephanie. Grandma had had a heart attack whilst out walking Freddy and was in a serious condition. We dropped our plans and started to arrange to fly back to the UK. By the time we had looked into it, Win was dead. It was, and still is, a complete shock. No matter how many people how since said to me that she “looked ill’ at the wedding or “was old”, as far as I was concerned I left her perfectly healthy with a big grin on her face.
We made it back for the funeral, something i’m really glad we both did. With the help of the siblings, I made up a book of her poems and had them distributed to all the guests at her funeral. They were really rather good poems, from an intelligent lady with razor sharp observational wit. Here are a couple so judge for yourself.
Poem by Win Sharman
Why can it be you???re always wrong in subjects we discuss?
And won???t admit that I am right unless I make a fuss,
And then your lapse of silence, and remaining taciturn,
Endorses what I???ve always thought,
You just don???t want to learn.
The Age of Chivalry by Win Sharman
Now years ago someone said,
The age of Chivalry was dead,
Since then it???s sometimes been exhumed,
But not for long as it was doomed,
Ever since a woman dared,
To air her views ???til she was heard.
We now have sex equality,
A dirty phrase if you???re a HE,
It started with the Women???s Lib,
And this is why the men all crib,
They do not want us in the pub,
And we???re not welcome in their club,
We???re loathed if we???re the boss at work,
Only they???re allowed to shirk,
We???re frowned at if we play their games,
They could be beaten by the dames,
We may prove better mountaineers,
Or not get stoned on seven beers,
Or we may score a hole-in-one,
Or drive the car and do a ton.
But there is one thing they???ll let us share,
Then chivalry they???ve lots to spare,
Need it even once be said?
They???ll welcome you to share their bed!
In memory of Grandma, 1928-2010.